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'»• •!• H* * 



Great Britain and the United States 




^^Meanvihite lue make ourselves kapfiy among the Wits 
and t/ie Piayers." 

*' Masks and Faces," act i\ scent: 2. 


* * 



739 & 741 Broadway, New York 

Copyright. 1886, 

AU rights reserved. 




William Charles Macready 

Lawrence Barrett . 


Edwin Forrest . 

Lavirence Barrett 


Samuel Phelps 

William Archer 


Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean ) 

Laurence Hutton 


(Ellen Tree) ) 

Edwin L. Davenport . 

Henry Edwards 


Charlotte Cushman . 

Clara Erskine Clement 

■ 137 

Anna Cora Mo watt . 

Laurence Hutton 


Helen Faucit (Lady Martin) 

Robert W. Lowe. 


Frederick Robson 

Edw. Hamilton Bell 


Charles Fechter 

Kate Field 


Matilda Heron . 

Henry Edwards 



Wm.J. Florence 


John McCullough 

William Winter . 


Adelaide Neilson 

C. C. Buel . 





IV.—i . 

' This is the noblest Roman of them all ; ' 

And he shall wear his victor's crown, and stand 

Distinct amidst the genius of the land, 

And lift his head aloft while others fall. 

He hath not bowed him to the vulgar call, 

Nor bid his countenance shine obsequious, bland, 

But let his dark eye keep its high command, 

And gather'd ' from the few ' his coronal. 

Yet unassuming hath he won his way ! 

And therefore fit to breathe the lines of him 

Who gaily, once, beside the Avon River, 

Shaped the great verse that lives, and shall live for 

But he now revels in eternal day. 
Peerless amongst the earth-born cherubim. 

B. W. Procter. 


William Charles Macready, born in London, March 
3) i793> w^ °o^ destined by his parents for a player's 
life, although he was the son of a celebrated country 
actor and manager, who had conducted one of the 
great English circuits for several years with varying 
success, playing important characters himself. William 
was sent to a preparatory school, and afterwards to 
Rugby, with the design of giving him the advantages 
of a university training. Disaster came to the affairs 
of the father, however, and the education of the son 
was interrupted just at the moment when he was about 
to attain a high place in the school. Disappointed at 
this condition of things, but with much honesty of 
purpose, he turned to the profession of his father, 
taking his place in the active management of the cir- 
cuit, and at last, in 1809, making his appearance as an 
actor. He had many opportunities for study, although 
as much work on his hands as he could well perform. 
He succeeded in placing the family affairs on a more 
prosperous footing, paid the pressing debts, and after 
several years of provincial work in such cities as 
Dublin, Bath and Edinburgh, found a place at last 
in London, that metropolis towards which the pro- 
vincial English actor looks with hungry longing. 
He was engaged at the Covent Garden Theatre for 



three years at the rising salary of fifteen, sixteen and 
eighteen pounds per week, opening there Sept. i6, 
1816, as Orestes in the 'Distressed Mother.' 

Kean was at this time in the full tide of his Drury 
Lane successes, while Kemble, Young, Abbott and 
O'Neill were the supports of the rival theatre. Into 
the latter group Macready entered, and his opening 
performance was regarded as a fair and promising 
effort. He was praised by Hazlitt, condemned by 
lesser writers, but speedily found a useful place by 
the side of the great men who at that day rendered 
the English stage illustrious. 

It was during his early work in this theatre that 
Junius Brutus Booth made his bow there, entering 
upon the rivalry with Edmund Kean which produced 
so much ill-feeling; and, being placed above Macready 
in the casts as well as in public esteem causing the 
latter enduring heartburn. 

Macready was the original Rob Roy in London, 
which did much to fix his fame in the minds of the 
doubting public. He had the good fortune to play 
with Mrs. Siddons on her reappearance for Charles 
Kemble's benefit in 1817, and to witness the farewell 
to the stage of John Kemble in the same year. His 
vacations were passed in professional visits to the 
provinces — especially to Newcastle or Bristol, where 
his father was manager. He spent much of the year 
1822 in traveling, visiting France and Italy, where 
he saw the noted actors of both countries. He had 
the rare opportunity of witnessing several of the 
renowned Talma's most finished performances. In 
1823, on his return, he played Othello, Romeo, King 
John and Shylock, beside some original parts, in the 


then declining days of Covent Garden, and soon 
after severed his connection with the theatre, an act 
which caused much bitterness of feeling between the 
management and himself. He appeared at Drury 
Lane Oct. 13, 1823, as Virginius, following with a 
round of his other parts. He was married June 24, 
1824, and made his first visit to America in 1826, 
landing in New York on Sept. 27. He opened at 
the Park Theatre Oct. 2, as Virginius, and played a 
round of his great characters with much success. 

Going thence to Boston, Philadelphia and other 
cities his success was continued, his terms in America 
being ^^50 per night. He returned to London the 
following year, reappearing at Drury Lane Nov. 12, 
in ' Macbeth.' Taking an English company to Paris 
in 1828, he began a series of performances at the 
Salle Favart, opening in 'Macbeth.' It was an ar- 
tistic success, resulting in pecuniary loss. Soon after 
his return to England, he became the manager of 
Covent Garden Theatre, opening there under favor- 
able auspices, and producing many of the original 
plays with which his fame is identified. After two 
years of management, seriously hurt in fortune, but 
with reputation unimpaired, he began again his inde- 
pendent tours and at last assumed the management 
of Drury Lane Theatre, which he conducted with much 
success. Sailing for America again in 1843, he opened 
at the Park Theatre in New York on Sept. 25. His 
engagements on this occasion extended over one year, 
and were highly profitable. Returning to Europe in 
1844, he repeated the Parisian experiment with an 
English company with the same result as on his former 
visit. During the next few years he was busy in his 


profession both in London and the provinces. In 1846 
Edwin Forrest visited England, and it was during this 
period that the relations hitherto pleasant between 
himself and Mr. Macready, by causes real or fancied, 
became estranged and finally broken. On Sept. 24, 
1848, Macready landed at Boston to begin his last 
American engagement which resulted so disastrously. 

On May 23, 1849, M"". Macready embarked for his 
own country. After two years more of active service 
in his profession, on Feb. 26, 1851, Mr. Macready bade 
farewell to the stage, making his last appearance in 
Shakspere's Macbeth at the Haymarket Theatre. His 
severance from the stage was complete. He retired to 
Sherburne and devoted himself for the remainder of his 
life almost entirely to labors of devotion and usefulness. 
His charity was extensive, he himself visited the sick 
and the poor, but his greatest interest was in the cause of 
education among the poorer classes. In i860, leaving 
Sherburne, he took up his residence at Cheltenham, 
and on April 3, of that year was married for the 
second time, his first wife having died Sept. 18, 1852. 
In the spring of 187 1, Macready, in failing health, 
visited London to consult Sir Henry Thompson. At 
last, in spite of skill and excellent treatment, after three 
days of confinement, remaining conscious to the last, 
on April 27, 1873, he passed away. He was buried in 
Kensal Green. — These are the facts of a busy life in 
homely detail. 

Macready was a scholar and a worker ; but he had' 
no love for his calling. 1 It had robbed him of the 
prize which seemed so close to his hand, — a good 
social position and lettered ease. Diligently he strove 
to rise from the lower ranks of his own profession. 


but the superior qualities of his rivals stood ever in 
his way. He seemed to possess none of the re- 
quisites for an actor save industry. He was gaunt 
and angular, had an unmusical voice and an awkward 
manner, possessing none of that magnetic quality 
which wins the auditor oftentimes before the interest 
of the character has unfolded itself in the plot ; but 
he was an enormous worker, with a soul boiling 
against his surroundings. With an ambition which 
jealousy tinctured and made contemptible, he spared 
no pains, he shunned no task, which could help him 
on towards the height on which his eyes were fixed. 
The heavy parts in the play fell to him, and his 
manner suited them admirably. He contended with 
such theatrical giants as the last of the Kembles, 
Charles Young, Junius Brutus Booth, and Edmund 
Kean. His style was unlike theirs ; his work was 
cold, full of scholarship and of study, but not im- 
pulsive or spontaneous. He was compelled to give 
place for many years to men whose excellence and 
superiority he never could expect to surpass, — the 
idols of the public, by whose side Macready never 
held any other than a subordinate rank. It is said 
that when the play of the 'Apostate' was brought 
to the theatre by the author, the elder Booth, who 
was enamored of Miss O'Neill, then the darling of 
the London public and the greatest actress of the 
day, declined the part of Pescara, the villain, which 
he afterwards made so famous, and demanded that 
of Hemeya, the lover of Florinda, that he might 
play the love scenes with the O'Neill. This in- 
cident placed the part in Macready's hands ; and 
it was the first great hit he made in London. The 


character was soon resumed by Booth, for whom it was 
intended, and never afterwards acted by Macready. 
At length, one by one, the great men who had been 
in the way of his advancement were removed, and 
he stood in the front rank of his profession. All 
the harshness of his nature now appeared ; he be- 
came haughty and offensive to all about him, sub- 
servient only to the aristocracy, but still working at 
his art with the spirit of a slave at the galleys. He 
was of an economical nature, and soon accumulated 
moderate wealth. He quarrelled with and left his 
old manager, and, aided by the wealthy friends 
whom he had never failed to propitiate, became 
himself a manager, inaugurating a series of revivals 
of old plays magnificent beyond the experience of 
that day. His research and scholarship attracted 
to the theatre learned men, and he gave a healthy 
impetus to dramatic taste, which will ever be his 
crown. He put himself prominently forward in 
these revivals, but they were none the less credit- 
able and admirable. His career as a manager was 
marked by tyranny and cruelty. He had no friends 
in those who served him ; he allowed no rivals to 
stand between him and the public. When Ryder 
once remonstrated with him upon some occasion of 
punished insubordination and told him he was a 
tyrant, Macready replied : " No, sir ; I am not a 
tyrant, — I am a despot." He dearly loved a lord ; 
he dearly hated his profession, — but it gave him all 
he had ; without it he would be nothing. Like 
Congreve, before him, he had a snob's contempt for 
his art, and was more proud of his social position 
than of his reputation as an actor, well meriting 


from the.Voltaires of his day the rebuke of the old 
French philosopher who, on the well-known occasion 
of his visit to the author of the ' Double Dealer " 
and 'Love for Love,' so pointedly declared that he 
had called, not upon Congreve, the gentleman, but 
upon Congreve, the writer, adding, " If you had 
been no more than a gentleman, sir, I would not 
have been here." 

Macready, however, attracted to the theatre some 
of the ablest contemporary critics ; and the best 
stage editions of the plays of his time are those 
which bear the marks of his directing talent. He 
was the original of more than one hundred char- 
acters, and became at last recognized as the great 
representative English actor. He was the friend of 
Bulwer, of Dickens, of Forster, and of Talfourd ; and 
was so tenacious of what he considered his dignity 
that he never permitted his children to see him in 
any of his characters for fear they might conceive 
contempt for his authority. He was a despot at 
home as well as the theatre. He kept a diary 
which speaks wonders for his diligence and his 
industry, but shows the violent, impetuous nature 
that was constantly leading him into difficulties, as 
constantly, however, to be regretted on bended 
knees. Some parts of the diary resemble the 'Con- 
fessions ' of Rousseau. He seemed to bear a scourg- 
ing monitor within his breast, and the monitor was 
ever applying the scourge. 

His performances were models of mechanism ; 
they lacked the divine spark which is called genius, 
but were penetrated by an intelligence which gave 
them unusually attractive power. He was greatest 


in such parts as Richelieu, Werner, and Cassius, where 
a certain regularity of mind and body are not out 
of place, and where a dry subtlety and a studied de- 
clamation are accepted in lieu of magnetic powers. 
A good illustration of the self-consciousness of 
Macready is given in one of the pages of his 
diary. He is going to the first performance of 
Bulwer's ' Money,' after many rehearsals and much 
care on his part, and he ingenuously notes that he 
is certain the play will fail because there are two 
other good parts in the piece ! These are the con- 
flicting elements which form the character of one 
of the most noted actors of his age, or any age. 
But when all is said, common justice demands the 
acknowledgment that the modern theatre owes more 
to the industry of William C. Macready than to the 
example of any other actor who preceded or fol- 
lowed him. The stage needed just such a laborer 
to show to the followers of Edmund Kean that 
genius alone is not able to advance the highest 
purpose of any art. By his constant and untiring 
will he performed a herculean task, and he restored 
to the stage a more careful and more cultivated 
study of its aims and ends. With all the elabora- 
tion of modern French comedy he united some of 
the deepest subtleties of the old masters of the 
dramatic art ; and the weird tragedy of ' Macbeth ' 
under his skillful mechanism was endowed with such 
an amount of faithful detail that the play became 
almost a new work, and gave his own performance 
a place beyond the power of any rival. No career 
is so instructive to the young actor as that of 
Macready, in spite of the offensive nature of the man. 


He occupied a place in the English theatre which 
at his retirement remained vacant for twenty years, 
until Henry Irving advanced to fill it with some of 
the same powerful qualities of his predecessor, much 
of his industry, but none of his coldness for his 
fellow-men. Macready's life was that of a scholar, 
a gentleman, and a good citizen. He fulfilled all 
the requirements of his social life, and retired at 
last from an art which he hated, rich in fortune, 
fame, and friends. True to his principles t^ the 
last hour of his professional life, he is said to have 
told his servant, when he was going to take his leave 
forever of the public, to "hold the curtain close 
when he came off, that he might not be annoyed 
by the adieus of those actors." He never concealed 
his contempt for Charles Kean, who rivalled him in 
his last years, and of whom he always spoke as " the 
son of his father." He was not popular in the United 
States. His style was not pleasing to the Americans, 
who were more used to the robust method of Cooper, 
or to the fiery genius of Booth, although he attracted 
the notice of scholars and the polite circles generally. 

An account of the Astor Place Riot in New York has 
been reserved to close this brief memoir. The incident 
of Forrest's latest reception in England had been ex- 
aggerated in his favor when reported in his own land, 
and the cause became an international one, — the quarrel 
of John Bull and his young offspring, Brother Jona- 
than. Forrest's reception became a matter of patriot- 
ism; the democrats rallied as one man to vindicate 
his honor and that of the nation insulted in his person. 
It was well known that, while he had been denied a 
fair hearing in London, on account, perhaps, of 


Macready's secret opposition, he had gained the ap- 
plause of all the provinces through which he played, 
immediately after his London failure ; but this fact did 
not weigh in the minds of his ardent friends. A storm 
was brewing which only awaited the return of Macready 
to burst and scatter death and destruction in its 

Upon his reappearance in Sept. 1848, a plan was 
formed, but defeated by Forrest to whom it was sub- 
mitted, that Macready should be hissed from the stage. 
Macready in one of his speeches before the curtain, 
alluded to this rumored attempt, in order to gain 
sympathy for himself. On May 7, 1849, he began his 
engagement at the Astor Place Opera House, in the 
character of Macbeth. The theatre was crowded by 
his enemies who greeted him with hostile demonstra- 
tion. The play proceeded amid yells and hisses ; at 
the end of the third act the performance was stopped, 
and Macready returned to his hotel. He prepared to 
return to England, but after some deliberation, acting 
upon the advice of his friends, he decided to hazard a 
second appearance in order that he might see how the 
public approved the opposition against him. An invi- 
tation to this effect, signed by many of the best citizens 
of New York was taken as a defiance by the admirers 
of Forrest, who prepared to meet the issue. On May 
10, Macready was announced to reappear as Macbeth. 
The authorities had been called to the aid of the 
signers of the call, and when the doors were opened 
the theatre was instantly filled by a crowd of persons 
favorable to the actor, while the great mass of his 
enemies were excluded. These filled the streets, 
however, while the few who did gain admission showed 


their opposition upon the appearance of Macready. 
At the first attempt the assailants were confronted by 
a body of Macready's friends within the theatre too 
powerful to be resisted ; but the majority without 
added a threatening reinforcement when the decisive 
moment for violence should arrive. 

The noise increased. Stones were hurled against 
the windows of the building, smashing them to 
atoms. The theatre was besieged on all sides by 
the infuriated mob, and its destruction seemed inevi- 
table. At the end of the play Macready, in disguise, 
was hurried out of the front door, not recognized by 
the crowd, and barely escaped with his life. The 
militia was called out, the order was given to disperse, 
the angry crowd only hooted a reply of derision, the 
riot act was read amid the yells and oaths of the blood 
seeking rabble, stones and missies were hurled at the 
Seventh Regiment, the police gave way before the 
overpowering number of the mob, and at last, the 
soldiers, sore pressed, wounded and nearly demoralized 
by the assaults which they were not allowed to repulse, 
were ordered to close column en masse, load at will, 
and fire. Had it not been for this, the mob would 
have massacred the whole regiment. Their attack 
was at once furious and determined, but the soldiers 
responded in like measure. Of the rioters one hun- 
dred and thirty-four were killed outright ; and over a 
hundred wounded, the remainder dispersed into the 

Macready returned home full of manly regret for 
the horror which had clouded his American visit. 

Lawrence Barrett. 


We reached Birmingham with so reduced a purse 
that my father had to call upon a friend for a loan to 
meet our immediate expenses. But the theatre 
opened ; the company, which was still further re- 
inforced, was pronounced very good, and all went on 
satisfactorily. Conway was the great favorite. My 
father, to whom I of course deferred, had selected 
Romeo for the character of my debut, and accordingly 
I was now in earnest work upon it. Frequently in the 
course of my solitary attempts the exclamation would 
escape me, " I cannot do it ; " and in some of my 
private rehearsals I had the discouraging remark of 
my father, "that will not do," to damp my courage 
and cast the gloomy shade of doubt on my exer- 
tions. Still, however, I persevered ; and as the time 
of making the desperate plunge approached, my hopes 
were somewhat cheered by the encouragement of the 
lady who was rehearsing her part of Juliet with me 
(Mrs. Young from Drury Lane Theatre), and my 
father's admission of "very great improvement." By 
dint of practice and repeated rehearsals, alone and 
with the other performers, I had got by rote, as it 
were, every particular of place, gesture, feeling, and 
intonation — and well for me I had done so ; for it 
made my heart beat more quickly to read in the street 
playbills the announcement of " The part of Romeo 
by a young gentleman, his first appearance on any 
stage," the emotions I experienced, on first crossing 
the stage, and coming forward in face of the lights 
and the applauding audience were almost overpower- 
ing. There was a mist before my eyes. I seemed to 
see nothing of the dazzling scene before me, and for 
some time I was like an automaton moving in certain 


defined limits. I went mechanically through the 
variations in which I had drilled myself, and it was 
not until the plaudits of the audience awoke me from 
the kind of waking dream in which I seemed to be 
moving, that I gained my self-possession, and really 
entered into the spirit of the character and, I may say, 
felt the passion I was to represent. Every round of 
applause acted like inspiration on me : I " trod on 
air," became another being, or a happier self ; and 
when the curtain fell at the conclusion of the play, 
and the intimate friends and performers crowded on 
the stage to raise up the Juliet and myself, shaking 
my hands with fervent congratulations, a lady asked 
me, " Well, sir, how do you feel now ? " my boyish 
answer was without disguise, " I feel as if I should 
like to act it all over again." 

Wm. C. Macready : ' Reminiscences,' chap. 2, 

Went to Covent Garden where I saw ' Virginius.' 
Macready very much pleased me. The truth of his 
performance is admirable. His rich mellow tones are 
delightful, and did he combine the expressive face of 
Kean with his own voice he would far surpass Kean, 
for in judgment I think him equal. The scene in 
which he betrothes his daughter is delightfully tender. 

Henry Crabb Robinson : ' Reminiscences,' vol. i., 
chap. 25, January i, 1821. 

His successful inrpersonation of Richard III., and 
his masterly delineation of Virginius, at once de- 
termined his position as an actor of the first class — 
second to none. All the parts in which I ever saw 


him, such as Orestes, Mirandola, William Tell, Rob Roy, 
and Claude Melnotte, he certainly had made his own. He 
was a man of more reading and cultivation than 
Young ; and while the latter amused himself in the 
hunting-field or the drawing-rooms of his aristocratic 
patrons, the former gave himself heart and soul to the 
study of his art, and greatly improved his powers by 
intellectual friction with such minds as those of 
Bulwer, Forster, Dickens, Knowles, and Albany Fon- 
blanque. Moreover, he was what is called an original 

Julian Charles Young : ' Memoir of Charles 
Mayne Young,' chap. 4, pp. 63-4. 

Macready's performance of Tell (in Knowles' 
' William Tell ') is first rate. No actor ever affected me 
more than Macready did in some scenes of that play. 

'Recollections of the Table Talk of Samuel Rogers.' 

In Edmund Kean and Rachel we recognize types 
of genius ; in Macready I see only a man of talent, 
but of talent so marked and individual that it 
approaches very near to genius ; and indeed in justi- 
fication of those admirers who would claim for him the 
higher title ; I may say that Tieck, whose opinion on 
such a matter will be received with great respect, told 
me that Macready seemed to him a greater actor than 
either Kean or John Kemble ; and he only saw 
Macready in the early part of his long and arduous 
career Macready had a voice powerful, ex- 
tensive in compass, capable of delicate modulation in 
quiet passages (though with a tendency to scream in 
violent passages), and having tones that thrilled and 


tones that stirred tears. His declamation was 
mannered and unmusical ; yet his intelligence always 
made him follow the winding meanings through the 
inventions of the verse, and never allowed you to feel as 
you feel in the declamation of Charles Kean and many 
other actors that he was speaking words which he 

did not thoroughly understand Compared 

with any one we have seen since upon the stage 
Macready stands at such an immeasurable height that 
there must needs be a strange perplexity in the minds 
of his admirers on learning that while Kean and 
Young were still upon the stage Macready was very 
frequently called a mere melo-dramatic actor. In any 
sense which I can affix to this word it is absurd. He 
was by nature unsuited for some great tragic parts ; 
but by his intelligence he was fitted to conceive, and 
by his organization fitted to express characters, and 
was not like a melo-dramatic actor limited to situations. 
Surely Xing Zear, King John, Richard II ., Cassius, 
and lago are tragic parts ! In them he was great, 
nor could he be surpassed in certain aspects of 
Macbeth and Coriolanus, although he wanted the 
heroic thew and sinew to represent these characters as 

George Henry Lewes : ' On Actors and the Art 
of Acting,' chap. 4, pp. 39, 40, 42, 43. 

Macready's style was an amalgam of John Kemble 
and Edmund Kean. He tried to blend the classic art 
of the one with the impulsive intensity of the other ; 
and he overlaid both with an outer plating of his own, 
highly artificial and elaborately formal. He had, too, a 
mania for inoculating every one from his own system : 


he was a Narcissus in love with his own form-alities ; 
and he compelled, as far as he could, all with his 
influence to pay him the worship of his imitation. It 
was, I believe, Mrs. W. Clifford, mother-in-law of Har- 
rison the singer, who well rebuked this tyrannic ego- 
tism. He had been remorselessly hammering a speech 
into his ears at rehearsal in his stacccato, extra-syllabic 
manner, when she coolly, but decidedly, told him that 
she much preferred her own style, and declined to 
change it for his, adding as she opened her eyes and 
expanded her hand and mouth, with a strong crescendo 
emphasis on the word all : " If this goes on, we shall 
be ALL Macreadys ! " 

George Vandenhoff : ' Leaves from an Actor's 
Note Book,* chap, i .,/. i8. 

Macready was never a favorite of ours, and is, in 
our opinion, indebted more to circumstances and to a 
cultivated talent for his reputation and success than to 
any inherent genius. His acting, though evincing the 
scholar and the artist, was too cold and mechanical for 
our taste. No one who witnessed him could for a 
moment divest himself of the knowledge that it was 
Mr. Macready who was on the stage instead of the 
imaginary creation of the poet. No matter who or 
what the character might be, still the actor was 
visible and the art apparent. His Hamlet was a 
soulless, automatic-like performance. His voice, like 
Kemble's, was exceedingly disagreeable — a deep, 
husky, gutteral sound of which he never could rid him- 
self, and which at times rendered his reading almost 

• The Aaor,' chap. b,p. 68. 


It was in general by his management of his physi- 
cal powers rather than by their natural qualities that 
Macready compelled admiration and swayed the sym- 
pathies. But this effect would have been impossible 
if all the details had not been suggested and continu- 
ously enlivened by a real and profound sensibility. 
He was, in fact, the only actor I have ever seen 
who was always under the apparent influence of 
the emotion he was depicting, and never gave the 
impression that he was seeking to represent what, 
at the time, at least, he was not actually feeling. 
It was this sensibility, controlled and guided by the 
technical skill so laboriously acquired, that lent a 
varied and attractive play of expression to features 
not naturally flexible, and to vocal organs that were, 
perhaps, better adapted to oratory than to acting. 
Booth's voice might have been compared to a violin, 
while Macready's had properties that more resembled 
those of a piano. There were rich tones in the middle 
register ; there were deep notes employed occasionally 
with great effect ; there was a clear, ringing resonance 
in the excitement of passion, and a peculiar capacity 
for purely intellectual expression. But there was no 
fine mellowness or sweetness ; you were jnore often 
startled by a staccato than subdued by a melting 
sostetiuto ; and the highest notes were sometimes 
shrill and habitually tremulous. The musical flow 
of the verse was almost utterly lost ; the sense alone 
directed the elocution, leading sometimes to abrupt 
changes of intonation that had the effect on the ear 
of a sudden change of key without modulation in a 
musical composition. On the other hand, no false 
note was ever struck, no shade of meaning was left 


undiscriminated, no measured or monotonous recita- 
tion ever wearied the ear. In the " Never — never — 
never ! " of the ' Stranger ' the voice descended by 
octaves to a depth that reminded one of a great 
basso. In Werner's imploring cry, — 

Ulric I Ulric ! there are crimes 
Made venial by the occasion, — 

the Utterance of the name, first, with a falling and 
then with a rising inflection, had the effect of the 
chromatic scale, descending and ascending, under the 
hand of a virtuoso. Even the defects of the intona- 
tion, the tremulous tones, the spasmodic jerks, seemed 
to aid the effect in the broken utterances of intense 
and struggling passion. 

John Foster Kirk : Lippimott's Magazine, June, 

You will readily understand from this that to the 
actor the well-worn maxim that art is long and life 
is short has a constant significance. The older we 
grow the more acutely alive we are to the difficulties 
of our craft. I cannot give you a better illustration 
of this fact than a story which is told of Macready. 
A friend of mine, once a dear friend of his, was with 
him when he played Hamlet for the last time. The 
curtain had fallen, and the great actor was sadly 
thinking that the part he loved so much would 
never be his again. And as he took off his velvet 
mantle and laid it aside, he muttered almost uncon- 
sciously the words of Horatio, " Good night, sweet 
Prince ; " then, turning to his friend, "Ah," said he, 
" I am just beginning to realize the sweetness, the 


tenderness, the gentleness of this dear Hamlet." 
Believe me, the true artist never lingers fondly upon 
what he has done. He is ever thinking of what 
remains undone ; ever striving toward an ideal it 
may never be his fortune to attain. 

Henry Irving : ' Harvard Address,' reported in the 
Critic, April 4, 1885. 

Now let us look into old Drury Lane in the 
Macready days. Macready was notoriously one of 
the most violent tempered men in England, and in 
his ' Life ' it is recorded that he prayed earnestly to 
be delivered from his violent fits of passion. Ma- 
cready was a scholar and a gentleman, and most 
conscientious in his endeavors to make the stage 
what it ought to be, — a school of dramatic art to 
his audience. Naturally he had a very fine voice, 
susceptible of great modulation, especially in the 
representation of pathos. But, from an over-anxiety 
to make everything that he said reach every one of 
his audience, he had fallen into a painful habit of 
breaking up his sentences, which not only marred 
the rhythm of the verse he had to speak, but gave 
a " jerky " unevenness to his elocution that became at 
times irritating. Another drawback that he created 
for himself was this : he made the most horrible 
faces when his passions were aroused, insomuch that 
I was once nearly put out of the theatre for bursting 
out laughing in ' King Lear,' when the mad king 
shrieked out, " Look ! look ! a mouse," and he made 
such a tremendous face and rolled his eyes in such a 
supernatural manner at so small an animal, in his im- 
agination, that if it had been at the end of the world 


I could not have kept my countenance. Nevertheless, 
on looking back I feel fully convinced that a Shak- 
sperean performance at Macready's theatre gave one 
a great zest for reading and trying to understand 

Cornhill Magazine, September, 1885. 

Though they usually got on very well together, 
my father [Henry Compton] and Macready did not 
always, in the words of the former, "hit the mark," 
especially when Macready would try to give my 
father, amongst others, a lesson in acting. I re- 
member hearing him allude once or twice to a slight 
discussion that took place during the rehearsal of 
some piece in which my father was to play a Jack 
Tar. Macready sat watching one of the scenes for 
some time, and then stopped the rehearsal. Getting 
up very solemnly and deliberately, he delivered him- 
self most impressively as follows : " Mr. Compton, I 
do not speak without due consideration and thought 
on the subject, and you must therefore excuse my 
saying that you have never been still for more than 
a minute at a time the whole of this scene." The 
answer was delivered just as impressively but not 
exactly in the measured tones of the tragedian : 
" Mr. Macready, I do not speak without due con- 
sideration and thought on the subject, and you will 
therefore excuse my saying. Did you ever know a 
British sailor just come on shore after a long voyage 
who could keep still for more than a moment at a time ? " 
The tragedian fell back, and the rehearsal continued. 

Edward Compton : 'Memoir of Henry Compton,' 
chap. 4. 


Mr. Macready was a great actor, and a distinguished 
man in many ways ; but you will, I dare say, remember 
that he would never, if he could help it, allow any one 
to stand on the same level with himself. I read once 
in Punch that they supposed Mr. Macready thought 
Miss Helen Faucit had a very handsome back, for, 
when on the stage with her, he always managed that 
the audience should see it and little else. 

Helen Faucit (Lady Martin): 'On some of Shak- 
spere's Female Characters,'/. 293. 

Macready came to Philadelphia in the season of 
1826-27, to act at the Chestnut, and on the day of 
his arrival was entertained at dinner by the manager. 
Wood, — Jefferson being one of the guests. The 
next morning a rehearsal of ' Macbeth ' occurred, 
and Jefferson, who was lame with gout, appeared 
with a cane in his hand. This was an infraction 
of the well-known rule, but it was understood in 
the company that Mr. Jefferson was ill, and therefore 
the breach of stage etiquette was not regarded. 
The comedian was to enact the First Witch. 
Macready immediately observed the cane, and, 
with his customary arrogance, determined to assert 
himself. "Tell that person," he said, "to put 
down his cane." The prompter, thus commanded, 
delivered his message. "Tell Mr. Macready," said 
Jefferson, "that I shall not act with him during his 
engagement;" and he left the stage. "Mr. Ma- 
cready had a right," he afterwards remarked, "to 
object to the carrying of a cane at rehearsal ; but 
it was obvious to me that this was not his point. 
He chose to "disregard the fact that we were, and 


had met as, social equals, and to omit the civility of 
a word of inquiry which would have procured im- 
mediate explanation. His purpose was to overbear 
and humiliate me, so as to discipline and subjugate 
the rest of the company. It was a rude exercise 
of authority, and its manner was impertinent." 
William Winter: 'The Jeffersons,'/}^. 76-77. 

For his benefit, at New Orleans, Mr. Macready 
produced (as an after-piece !) the ' School for Scandal,' 
in three acts ! cutting out the great scandal scene, 
the picture scene, and several other scenes ; so as to 
confine it as much as possible to the development of 
the ' Plots of Joseph Surface ' which character he 
played, (so far as as he remembered the words — ^for 
he was very imperfect,) and which consequently be- 
came, of course, the feature ; and as far as he could 
make it so — the only feature of the comedy. He 
insisted, too, (to save himself trouble in dressing, I 
suppose,) on wearing his own modern clothes ; black 
coat and pantaloons. I played Charles Surface, but 
of course did not follow his example in this gross 
anachronism of costume. 

George Vandenhoff: 'Leaves from an Actor's 
Note Book,'/. 231. 

In rehearsing the play of ' Virginius,' an occurrence 
took place which caused a hearty laugh at the expense 
of Mr. William Forrest (brother to the tragedian), who 
was the Icilius. Caught by the natural tone and man- 
ner of Macready, who, turning suddenly, said: "Will 
you lead Virginia in, or do you wait for me to do it?" 
" Which ever you please, Mr. Macready," was the ready 


answer, followed by such a laugh as only actors can 

F. C. Wemyss : ' Twenty-six Years of the Life of an 
Actor,'/. 118. 

He was naturally an amiable man, with a most 
passionate temper, and subject to terrible ebullitions 
on the slightest and most trivial occasions. I'll men- 
tion a little incident which I very well recall, to illus- 
trate this. Macready always came to the theatre 
about two hours before the curtain went up, and he 
would sit down and chat, and talk, and grumble about 
the things which had displeased him the day before, 
and make all sorts of trivial complaints. On one 
occasion he started up suddenly and called to his 
man, Thompson by name — " Thompson, Great Heav- 
ens ! what a beast you are ! Thompson, I don't know 
why in thunder I should be bothered and annoyed 
and pestered by such an infernal scoundrel ! " " What 
— what — is the matter ? " gasped the frightened Thomp- 
son. " Look round and see, you scoundrel ; don't you 
see you have forgotten something ? " "I don't know, 
indeed, what I have forgotten," said Thompson. "My 
book of beards" roared Macready. Thompson rushed 
out into the street and across to the Revere House 
for the book, and then Macready turned to me and 
said, " Brougham, did you ever know such a wretch ? 
Did you ever see such a consummate scoundrel ? I 
ask you how can I preserve the equilibrium of mind 
I require, for the arduous labors I have to undergo, 
with such a villain?" At last Thompson rushed in 
and laid the book of beards, before him. Again 
Macready eyed him and flew at him in a violent rage 


once more. " Thompson," he said, " when I took you 
out with me I promised your people I would take as 
much care of you, confound you, as I could, as much 
as your brutal nature would permit anybody to do, and 
yet of such a night as this, with the snow on the 
ground, you go out without an overcoat." That was 
a characteristic scene between Macready and his man, 
and well illustrates his tendency to get into a terrible 
rage about nothing. 

John Brougham : reported in Boston Times, Oct. 
25, 1874. 

Macready's sensitiveness shrouded itself within an 
artificial manner ; but a more delightful companion 
could not be, — not only on account of his learning and 
accomplishment, but of his uncompromising liberality 
of opinion, and his noble strain of meditative thought. 
He enjoyed playing Jacques — thinking that character 
singularly like himself ; and it was so, in one part of 
his character : but there was, besides the moralizing 
tendency, a chivalrous spirit of rare vigilance, and an 
unsleeping tenderness and social beneficence, which 
accounted for and justified the idolatry with which 
he was regarded, through all trials occasioned by the 
inevitable temper with which he manfully struggled. 

Harriet Martineau : ' Autobiography,' vol. i., 
period 6, section 2. 

Poor dear William ! I never thought him more 
interesting, however. To see a man who is exhibiting 
himself every night on the stage, blushing like a young 
girl in a private room is a beautiful phenomenon to 
me. His wife whispered into my ear, as we sat on the 


sofa together : " Do you know poor William is in a 
perfect agony to-day at having been brought here in 
that great coat. It is a stage great coat, but was only 
worn by him twice ; the piece it was bought for did 
not succeed, but it was such an expensive coat, I would 
not let him give it away ; and doesn't he look well in 
it?" I wish Jeannie had seen him in the coat — 
magnificent fur neck and sleeves, and such frogs on 
the front. He did look well, but so heartily ashamed 
of himself. 

Jane Welsh Carlyle: 'Letters and Memorial,' 
vol. i., Letter 42, March, 1843. 

He speaks in his diary of the ugliness which went 
against him at his first appearance. Perhaps in his 
youth he was somewhat puffy — I have heard so — but 
when I first saw him in his middle age, his face and 
figure showed little flesh, his jaw was square, there 
was a singular intensity in his eyes, he looked like a 
passionate, thinking man, and his presence was com- 
manding : you would hardly pass him in the street 
without saying, " Who can that be ? " His first aspect 
was perhaps severe, but what a charm there is in a 
grave countenance when it breaks into a pleasant 
smile — a smile of humor or of kindness ! 

Lady Pollock : 'Macready as I Knew Him,'/. 5. 

Therefore it was thit the great audience which was 
gathered together to listen to his last farewell at 

Drury Lane were moved to an unusual degree 

When he came on the stage after his performance of 
Macbeth, in his daily dress, and alone, they bent 
eagerly forward. Their agitation was evident ; but it 


was dominated by the desire to hear every syllable he 
uttered. He spoke as suited the occasion, simply and 
briefly ; his accents were tender yet quite distinct. At 
the end his voice faltered, and tears, which he quietly 
wiped away, fell from his eyes. The tears of his 
hearers flowed fast ; and a voice from the gallery 
shouted out in lamentation, " The Last of the 
Mohicans ! " Then arose a cheer loud and long, 
pausing for an instant, only to be renewed again and 
again with increasing power. Of the large numbers 
who failed to gain admittance, many were gathered 
outside the walls and echoed the applause from within. 
Ibid., pp. 139-40. 

On one occasion he [the elder Booth] took every 
member of his family to witness Macready's Werner. 
The writer can remember only a sombre man with 
peculiar brows and gutteral voice, dragging through 
what seemed to her a very dismal tragedy ; but Mr. 
Booth pronounced it " a most exquisite performance." 

Asia Booth Clarke : ' The Elder and the Younger 
Booth,' vol. i.,p. 113. 

February 22, 1833. — Yesterday I omitted to rebuke 
myself for the petulance with which I rated the man 
who carries my clothes. If we examine our relations 
with mankind we have no right to show anger to any 
man ; it is the right only of the tyrant over his slave, 
and there is first the right of tyranny in the abstract to 
be established. To be angry with any one is to 
assume a pretension to superiority that men are least 
disposed to allow. Why cannot I reflect before I 
commit myself in word or action ? 


Exeter, March 30, 1835. — I begin to despair of ob- 
taining tliat mastery over myself, which I owe to myself, 
to my children, and to society. It is no excuse nor plea 
that I suffer so keenly as I do from regret and shame 
at my own intemperance. I feel the folly, the madness, 
the provoking extravagance of my behavior, treating 
men like slaves, and assuming a power over them 
which is most unjustifiable and most dangerous, and 
yet contrition and stinging reflection seem to have no 
power in the punishment they inflict or of producing 
amendment. I do not wish to harbor one ungrateful 
thought, for though my public life is far, far from 
happy, yet my domestic happiness is more than an 
equipoise to its annoyances ; yet I cannot think of my 
education, and the ills derived from the counsel and 
example afforded me, without heartfelt repinings. To 
God Almighty I lift my prayer, that I may be 
enabled to subdue this hateful and degrading vice of 
temper, so as to help my blessed children in the first 
best worldly endeavor of governing their own words. 

January 5, 1839. — Read my strange note from some 
woman threatening to destroy herself for love of me ! 
The ugly never need despair after this. 

February 3, 1851. — My theatrical engagement is 
concluded. My professional life may be said to be 
ended. I have only to act one night more for my own 
benefit, in regard to which I am bound to no man ; I 
have acquitted myself of my dues — I am free ! 
Nearly fifty-eight years of my life are numbered : 
that life was begun in a very mediocre position — mere 
respectability ; my father maintained a good character 
as an honest and a liberal man ; my mother was a 
wpman of good family, of superior intellect, excellent 


heart, and of high character, but at ten years of age I 
lost her counsel and example. My heart's thanks are 
constantly offered to God Almighty for the share of 
good he has permitted to be alloted to me in this life. 
I have attained the loftiest position in the art to 
which my destiny directed me, have gained the respect 
of the honored and respected, and the friendship of 
the highly-gifted, amiable, and distinguished. My 
education, my habits, my turn of mind did not 
suggest to me the thought of amassing wealth, or I 
might have been rich ; I have what I trust will prove 
competence, and most grateful am I for its possession. 
My home is one of comfort and of love, and I look 
towards it with cheerfulness and delightful security of 
heart, and most gratefully and earnestly do I bless the 
name and thank the bounty of Almighty God, Who 
has vouchsafed such an indulgence to me, undeserv- 
ing as I have been, and sinner as I am. Blessed be 
His name ? Amen. 

Wm. C. Macready : 'Diary.' 

Charles Sumner (Dec. lo, 1850) wrote from Boston 
(United States) : " You will stand out hereafter as the 
last great actor of the English stage. It must be so ; 
and I rejoice that associated with that position will be 
so much of private worth and general culture as we ad- 
mire in you. Of you we may say what Cicero said in his 
oration for Sextius, of the great Roman actor ^sopus, 
that he chose the noblest parts both as an actor and a 
citizen. 'Mehercule, semper partium inrepuMicd, tanqtiam 
inscend, optimarum.' I cannot do more than to wish for 
you the success in future fame which attended ^sopus. 



Farewell, Macready, since to-night we part ; 

Full-handed thunders often have confessed 

Thy power well used to move the public breast. 
We thank thee with our voice and from our heart. 
Farewell, Macready, since this night we part ; 

Go, take thine honors home ; rank with the best, 

Garrick and statelier Kemble and the rest 
Who made a nation purer through their art. 
Thine is it that our drama did not die. 

Nor flicker down to brainless pantomime. 
And those gilt gauds men-children swarm to see. 

Farewell, Macready ; moral, grave, sublime ; 
Our Shakspere's bland and universal eye 

Dwells pleased, through twice a hundred years, 
on thee. 

Alfred Tennyson. 


1V.-3 33 

No fading laurels did his genius reap ; 

With Shakspere's best interpreters full high 
His name is graven on Fame's temple-front, 
With Kean's and Kemble's, — names that will 
not die 
While memory venerates the poet's shrine, 
And holds his music more than half divine. 

Francis A. Durivage. 


Edwin Forrest was born in the city of Philadel- 
phia, March 9, 1806, his father, a Scotchman, having 
emigrated to America during the last year of the 
preceding century. The boy, like many others of his 
profession was designed for the ministry, and before 
the age of eleven the future Channing had attracted 
admiring listeners by the music of his voice and the 
aptness of his mimicry. His memory was remark- 
able, and he would recite whole passages of his pre- 
ceptor's sermons. Perched upon a chair or stool, 
and crowned with the proud approval of family and 
friends, the young mimic filled the hearts of his 
listeners with fervent hopes of his coming success in 
the fold of their beloved church. These hopes were 
destined to be met with disappointment. The bias 
of the future leader of the American stage was only 
faintly outlined as yet : his hour of development was 
still to come. 

He must have learned early the road to the theatre, 
permitted to go by the family, or going, perhaps, 
without the knowledge or consent of his seniors in 
the overworked household ; for, before he had passed 
his tenth year, our young sermonizer was a member 
of a Thespian club, and before he was eleven he had 
made his appearance at one of the regular theatres in 



a female character, but with most disastrous results. 
He soon outgrew the ignominy of his first failure, 
however, and again and again sought to overcome its 
disgrace by a fresh appearance. To his appeals the 
irate manager lent a deaf ear. The sacred portal that 
leads to the enchanted ground of the stage was closed 
against young Forrest, the warden being instructed not 
to let the importunate boy pass the door. At last, in 
desperation, he resolved to storm the citadel, to beat 
down the faithful guard, and to carry the war into 
the enemy's camp. One night he dashed past the 
astonished guardian of the stage entrance just as 
the curtain fell upon one of the acts of a play. He 
emerged before the footlights, eluding all pursuit, 
dressed as a harlequin, and before the audience had 
recovered from its astonishment at this scene not 
set down in the bills, the baffled, but not subdued, 
aspirant had delivered the lines of an epilogue in 
rhyme with so much effect that, before he could be 
seized by the astounded stage manager and hurled 
from the theatre, he had attracted public notice, 
successfully won his surprised audience, and not 
only secured immunity from punishment for his 
temerity, but actually gained that respect in the 
manager's estimation which he had so long and so 
vainly striven to acquire. 

At last Forrest was promised an appearance at the 
Walnut-street house, then one of the leading theatres 
of the country. He selected Young Norval in Home's 
tragedy of ' Douglas,' and on Nov. 27, 1820, the future 
master of the American stage, then fourteen years of 
age, — a boy in years, a man in character, — announced 
as "A young Gentleman of this City," surrounded by 


a group of veteran actors who had for many years 
shared the favor of the public, began a career 
which was as auspicious at its opening as it was 
splendid in its maturity. At his entrance he won 
the vast audience at once by the grace of his 
figure and the modest bearing that was natural to 
him. Something of that magnetism which he exer- 
cised so effectively in late years now attracted all 
who heard him, and made friends even before he 

He was allowed to reappear as Frederick in ' Lover's 
Vows,' repeating his first success ; and on Jan. 8, 
182 1, he benefited as Octavian in the ' Mountaineers,' 
a play associated with the early glories of Edmund 
Kean. In this year, also, he made his first and only 
venture as a manager, boldly taking the Prune Street 
Theatre, Philadelphia, and giving a successful perform- 
ance of Richard III., which not only pleased the au- 
dience but brought him a few dollars of profit. He 
made many attempts to secure a regular engagement 
in one of the Western circuits, where experience could 
be gained, and at last, after many denials, he was 
employed by Collins and Jones to play leading 
juvenile parts in their theatres in Pittsburgh, Cincin- 
nati, and Lexington. Thus at the age of sixteen or 
eighteen Edwin Forrest enrolled himself as a regular 
member of a theatrical company, and broke loose 
from trade forever. 

Of his professional progress here we have but poor 
accounts. He seems to have been very popular, and to 
have had an experience larger than he had heretofore 
enjoyed. He played with the elder Conway, and was 
affected by the grandeur of that actor's Othello, a 


Study which served Forrest well when in late years he 
inherited the character. 

Jane Placide, who inspired the first love of Edwin 
Forrest, was an actress who combined talent, beauty 
and goodness. Her character would have softened 
the asperities of his, and led him by a calmer path to 
those grand elevations towards which Providence had 
directed his footsteps. Baffled in his love, however, 
and believing Caldwell to be his rival and enemy, he 
challenged him, but was rebuked by the silent con- 
tempt of his manager, whom the impulsive and disap- 
pointed lover "posted." 

The hard novitiate of Edwin Forrest was now 
drawing near its close. Securing a stock engagement 
with Charles Gilfert, manager of the Albany Theatre, 
he opened there in the early fall, and played for the 
first time with Edmund Kean, then on his second visit 
to America. The meeting with this extraordinary 
man, and the attention he received from him were 
foremost among the directing influences of Forrest's 
life. To his last hour he never wearied of singing 
the praises of Kean, whose genius filled the English 
speaking world with admiration. Two men more 
unlike in mind and body can scarcely be imagined. 
Until now Forrest had seen no actor who represented 
in perfection the impassioned school of which Kean 
was the master. He could not have known Cooke 
even in the decline of that great tragedian's power, 
and the little giant was indeed a revelation. He 
played lago to Kean's Othello, Titus to his Brutus, 
and Richmond to his Richard III. 

In the interval which preceded the opening of the 
Bowery Theatre, New York, Forrest appeared at the 


Park for the benefit of Woodhull, playing Othello. He 
made a pronounced success, his old manager, sitting 
in front, profanely exclaiming, " By God, the boy has 
made a hit ! " This was a great event, as the Park 
was then the leading theatre of America, and its actors 
were the most famons and exclusive. 

He opened at the Bowery Theatre in November, 
1826, as Othello, and made a brilliant impression. His 
salary was raised from twenty-eight to forty dollars 
per week. From this success may be traced the first 
absolute hold made by Edwin Forrest upon the 
attention of cultivated auditors and intelligent critics. 
The Bowery was then a very different theatre from 
what it afterwards became, when the newsboys took 
forcible possession of its pit and the fire-laddies 
were the arbiters of public taste in its neighborhood. 

An instance of Forrest's moral integrity may be told 
here. He had been approached by a rival manager, 
after his first success, and urged to secede from the 
Bowery and join the other house at a much larger 
salary. He scornfully refused to break his word, 
although his own interests he knew must suffer. His 
popularity at this time was so great that, when his 
contract for the season had expired, he was instantly 
engaged for eighty nights, at a salary of two hundred 
dollars a night. 

The success which had greeted Forrest on his first 
appearance in New York, was renewed in every city 
in the land. Fortune attended fame, and filled his 
pockets, as the breath of adulation filled his heart. 
He had paid the last penny of debt left by his father, 
and had seen a firm shelter raised over the head of his 
living family. With a patriotic feeling for all things 


American, Forrest, about this time, formed a plan for 
the encouragement or development of an American 
drama, which resulted in heavy money losses to him- 
self, but produced such contributions to our stage lit- 
erature as the 'Gladiator,' 'Jack Cade 'and 'Meta- 
mora.' After five years of constant labor he felt that 
he had earned the right to a holiday, and he formed 
his plans for a two years' absence in Europe. A fare- 
well banquet was tendered him by the citizens of New 
York, and a medal was struck in honor of the occa- 
sion. Bryant, Halleck, Leggett, Ingraham and other 
distinguished men were present. This was an honor 
which had never before been paid to an American 

He had been absent about two years when he landed 
in New York in September, 1836. On his appearance 
at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, he was re- 
ceived with unprecedented enthusiasm. He gave six 
performances only, on this occasion, and each saw a 
repetition at the scene of the beginning of the en- 
gagement. The receipts were the largest ever known 
in that house. 

On Sept. 19, 1836, Forrest embarked once more for 
the mother country, this time with serious purpose. 
After a speedy and uneventful passage he reached Eng- 
land, and at once set about the preliminary business 
of his British engagement, which began Oct. 17, 1S36. 
He was the first really great American actor who had 
appeared in London as a rival of the English trage- 
dians ; for Cooper was born in England, though always 
regarded as belonging to the younger country. His 
opening part was Spartacus in the 'Gladiator.' The 
play was condemned, the actor applauded. In Othello, 


in Lear, and in Macbeth he achieved instant success. 
He began his engagement Oct. 17 and closed Dec. 19, 
having acted Macbeth seven times, Othello nine, and 
King Lear eight. A dinner at the Garrick Club was 
offered and accepted. Here he sat down with Charles 
Kemble and Macready ; Sergeant Talfourd was in the 

It was during this engagement he met his future 
wife, Miss Catherine Sinclair. In the latter part of 
June, 1837, the marriage took place in St. Paul's 
Church, Covent Garden. Mr. and Mrs. Forrest soon 
after embarked for America. The tragedian re- 
sumed his American engagements Nov. 15, 1837, at 
the old Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. Pre- 
sented to his friends, his wife at once made a deep 
and lasting impression. Her native delicacy of mind 
and refinement of manners enchanted those who hoped 
for some such influence to be exerted in softening the 
rough vigor and democratic downrightness of the 
man. Domestic discord came too soon, however, and 
in an evil hour for himself, in an evil hour for his art 
and for the struggling drama in America, Edwin For- 
rest threw open the doors of his home to the scrutiny of 
the world, and appealed to the courts to remove the 
skeleton which was hidden in his closet. With the 
proceedings of that trial, which resulted in divorce, 
alimony, and separation, this memoir has nothing to do. 

Edwin Forrest leaving the court room a defeated 
man, was instantly raised to a popularity with the masses 
beyond anything even he had before experienced. He 
began an engagement soon after at the Broadway 
Theatre, opening as Damon. The house was crowded 
to suffocation. The engagement of sixty nights was 


unparalleled in the history of the American drama for 
length and profit. But despite the flattering applause 
of the multiCUde, life never again had for him the 
smiling aspect it had so often worn before. The 
applause which filled his ears, the wealth which flowed 
in upon him could not improve that temper which had 
never been amiable and all the hard stories of his life 
belong to this period. 

On Sept. 20, 1852, he reappeared at the Broadway 
Theatre, New York. In February, 1853, 'Macbeth' 
was produced in grand style, with new scenery and 
appointments. The tragedy was played on twenty 
consecutive nights, then by far the longest run of 
any Shaksperean play in America. The cast was very 
strong : it included Conway, Duff, Davenport, Pope, 
Davidge, Barry and Madame Ponisi. 

On Sept. 17, i860, after an absence of nearly four 
years, Edwin Forrest appeared again on the stage. 
He was engaged by James Nixon, and began his con- 
tract of one hundred nights at Niblo's Garden, New 
York, in the character of Hamlet. The long retire- 
ment only increased the curious interest which centred 
round his historic name. Upon his opening night the 
seats were sold at auction. His success in Philadel- 
phia rivalled that of New York. In Boston the vast 
auditorium of the grandest theatre in America was 
found too small to contain the crowds he drew. 

Severe attacks of gout were beginning to tell upon 
that herculean form, sapping and undermining it ; 
and in 1865, while playing Damon at the Holiday 
Street Theatre, in Baltimore, the weather being very 
cold and the theatre open to draughts, he was 
seised with a sudden illness, which was followed 


by very serious results. Suffering the most intense 
agony, he was able to get to the end of the part ; but 
when his robes were laid aside and physicians sum- 
moned, it was found to his horror that he had suffered 
a partial paralysis of the sciatic nerve. In an instant 
the sturdy gait, the proud tread of the herculean actor 
were forever gone ; for he never regained complete 
control of his limb, a perceptible hobble being the 
legacy of the dreadful visitation. His right hand was 
almost powerless and he could not hold his sword. 

In 1866 he went to California, urged by the man- 
ager in San Francisco. His last engagement in New 
York took place in February, 187 1. He played Lear 
and Richelieu, — his two greatest parts. On the night of 
March 25, 1872, Forrest opened in Lear at the Globe 
Theatre, Boston. ' Lear ' was played six nights. Dur- 
ing the second week he was announced for Richelieu 
and Virginius ; but he caught a violent cold on Sunday, 
and labored sorely on Monday evening through the part 
of Richelieu. On Tuesday he repeated the perform- 
ance, against the advice of friends and physicians. 
Rare bursts of his old power lighted up the play, but 
he labored piteously on against his increasing illness 
and threatened pneumonia. When stimulants were 
offered he rejected them, declaring " that if he died 
to-night he should still be his old royal self." 

Announced for Virginius the following evening, he 
was unable to appear. A severe attack of pneumonia 
developed itself. He was carried to his hotel, and his 
last engagement was brought to an abrupt and melan- 
choly end. As soon as he was able to move he left 
Boston for his home in Philadelphia, resting on his way 
only a day in New York. As the summer passed away, 


the desire for work grew stronger and stronger, and 
he decided to re-enter public life, but simply as a 
reader of the great plays in which he had as an actor 
been so successful. The result was a disappointment. 
On Dec. ii, 1872, he wrote to Oakes his last letter, 
saying sadly, but fondly, " God bless you ever, my 
dear and much beloved friend." 

When the morning of Dec. 12 came, his servant, 
hearing no sound in his chamber at his general hour 
of rising, became alarmed, opened his master's door, 
and found there, cold in death upon his bed, the form 
of the great tragedian. His arms were crossed upon 
his bosom, and he seemed to be at rest. The stroke 
had come suddenly. With little warning, and without 
pain, he had passed away. 

The dead man's will was found to contain several 
bequests to old friends and servants, and an elaborate 
scheme by which his fortune, in the hands of trustees, 
was to be applied to the erection and support of a 
retreat for aged actors, to be called " The Edwin 
Forrest Home." The idea had been long in his 
mind, and careful directions were drawn up for 
its practical working ; but the trustees found them- 
selves powerless to realize fully the hopes and wishes 
of the testator. A settlement had to be made to the 
divorced wife, who acted liberally towards the estate ; 
but the amount withdrawn seriously crippled it, as it 
was deprived at once of a large sum of ready money. 
An informality in the drawing of the will involved 
the trustees in trouble, under the laws of the State of 
New York, in which much of the property lay. Large 
fees to lawyers still further hampered them, and their 
income at present is insufficient without aid to further 


the testator's purpose, while a claimant has arisen to 
demand possession of the estate on the ground of 
propinquity of blood. And thus the great ambition 
of the tragedian to be a benefactor to his profession 
was destined to come almost to naught. No sooner 
had the giant frame been laid in the grave than 
it was shown to the world how utterly vain and 
useless had been his accumulation of wealth for 
the laudable purposes for which he had designed it. 
Of this happily little he recks now. He has parted 
with all the cares of life and has at last found rest. 
Forrest's greatest Shaksperean parts were Lear, 
Othello, and Coriolanus. The first grew mellow and 
rich as the actor grew in years while it still retained 
much of its earlier force. His Othello suffered with 
the decline of his faculties, although his clear concep- 
tion of all he did was apparent to the end in the acting 
of every one of his parts. Coriolanus died with him, 
the last of all the Romans. He was greatest, however, 
in such parts as Virginius, William Tell, and Spartacus. 
Here his mannerisms of gait and utterance were less 
noticeable than in his Shaksperean characters, or 
were overlooked in the rugged massiveness of the 
creation. Hamlet, Richard and Macbeth were out of 
his temperament, and added nothing to his fame ; but 
Richelieu is said to have been one of his noblest and 
most impressive performances. He was in all things 
marked and distinctive. His obtrusive personality 
often destroyed the harmony of the portrait he was 
painting, but in his inspired moments, which were 
many, his touches were sublime. He passed over 
quiet scenes with little elaboration, and dwelt strongly 
upon the grand features of the characters he repre- 


sented. His Lear, in tiie great scenes, rose to a 
majestic heiglit, but fell in places almost to mediocrity. 
His art was unequal to his natural gifts. He was 
totally unlike his p:reat contemporary and rival, Ma- 
cready, whose attention to detail gave to every per- 
formance the harmony of perfect work. 

This memoir may fitly close with an illustrative 
anecdote of the great actor. Toward the end of his 
professional career he was playing an engagement at 
St. Louis. He was very feeble in health, and his 
lameness was a source of great anxiety to him. Sitting 
at a late supper in his hotel one evening, after a per- 
formance of King Lear, with his friend J. B. McCul- 
lough, of the Globe-Democrat, that gentleman re- 
marked to him, " Mr. Forrest, I never in my life saw 
you play Lear so well as you did to-night." Where- 
upon the veteran almost indignantly replied, rising 
slowly, and laboriously from his chair to his full 
height. " Play Lear ! What do you mean, sir ? I do 
not play Lear ! I play Hamlet, Richard, Shylock, Vir- 
ginius, if you please, but by God, sir, I am Lear ! " 

Nor was this wholly imaginative. Ingratitude of 
the basest kind had rent his soul. Old friends were 
gone from him ; new friends were but half-hearted. 
His hearthstone was desolate. The public, to whom 
he had given his best years, was becoming impatient 
of his infirmities. The royalty of his powers he saw by 
degrees torn from his decaying form. Other kings 
had arisen on the stage, to whom his old subjects now 
showed a reverence once all his own. The mockerj- 
of his diadem only remained. A wreck of the once 
proud man who had despised all weakness, and had 
ruled his kingdom with imperial sway, he now stood 


alone. Broken in health, and in spirit, deserted, for- 
gotten, unkinged, he might well exclaim, " I am 

Lear I" 

Lawrence Barrett. 

In 1817, Mr. Durang tells us, that, as a mere boy, 
for the lack of female performers, young Forrest 
played girls' characters frequently. He was then 
eleven years old. When in Louisville, in 1820, 
Forrest and James M. Scott, known as " Long Tom 
Coffin," played a pair of dandies with Mat; and in 
a piece called the 'Tailor in Distress,' Forrest took 
a negro part with so much African nature that he 
seemed the very incarnation of the race. 

H. D. Stone : ' Theatrical Reminiscences,' chap. 
14,/. 77. 

It has been doubted by some if Forrest ever per- 
formed feats of agility in the circus, but there is no 
mistake about it. He performed at the North Pearl- 
street Ampitheatre [Albany, N. Y.] for Bill Gates's 
benefit, on a wager, in a still vaulting act, creating 
shouts of laughter and applause from those present 
who knew it was Ned. The dress he wore on that 
occasion was from the wardrobe of the establishment, 
and consisted of an enormous pair of Turkish trousers, 
breastplate and fly, his feet were adorned by a pair 
of sheepskin pumps, — the kind worn by a numerous 
train of auxiliaries. But few knew him, and much 
fun was in vogue at Ned's expense. For Charley 
Young's benefit he also made a flying leap through a 


barrel of red fire, singeing his eyebrows all off. This 
was his last " big leap " in the show business. 
Ibid, chap. 27,/. 148, 

Foremost among a host of tyros stood Edwin 
Forrest. He had the advantage of some useful 
practice, and had already achieved a trifling repu- 
tation in the South and West He possessed 

[1826] a fine, untaught face and good manly figure, 
and, though unpolished in his deportment, his man- 
ners were frank and honest, and his uncultivated taste, 
speaking the language of truth and nature, could be 
readily understood. 

Joe Cowell : ' Thirty Years Among the Players/ 
part ii., chap. 7. 

A new theatre in the Bowery, a low quarter of the 
city, was opened during my sojourn in New York. 
It was handsome and commodious ; but its local- 
ity was an objection insuperable to the fashion 
of the place. Messieurs Conway and Forrest 
were members of the corps dramatique, which was 
composed of some of the best actors in the country. 
I was very anxious for poor Conway's success in the 
States, holding him in great esteem as a thoroughly 
gentlemanly man, and entitled to credit for consider- 
able talent. The part he acted on the night I saw 
him was Brutus, in ' Julius Caesar.' The performance 
was even, perhaps too tame ; unrelieved by any start 
of enthusiasm, and correctly described by that chilling 
word " respectable." Forrest was the Mark Antony. 
He was a very young man ; not more, I believe, than 
one or two and twenty. The " Bowery Lads," as they 


were termed, made great account of him, and he 
certainly was possessed of remarkable qualifications. 
His figure was good, though perhaps a little too 
heavy ; his face might be considered handsome, his 
voice excellent. He was gifted with extraordinary 
strength of limb, to which he omitted no opportunity 
of giving prominence. He had received only the 
commonest education, but in his reading of the text 
he showed the discernment and good sense of an 
intellect much upon a level with that of Conway ; 
but he had more energy, and was altogether dis- 
tinguished by powers that, under proper direction, 
might be productive of great effect. I saw him 
again in 'William Tell' His performance was marked 
by vehemence and rude force that told upon his 
hearers ; but of pathos in the affecting interview 
with his son there was not the slightest touch, and 
it was evident that he had not rightly understood 
some passages in his text. My observation upon 
him was not hastily pronounced. My impression 
was that, possessed of natural requisites in no or- 
dinary degree, he might, under careful discipline, 
confidently look forward to eminence in his profes- 
sion. If he would give himself up to a severe study 
of his art, and improve himself by the practice he 
could obtain before the audiences of the principal 
theatres of Great Britain, those of Edinburgh, Liver- 
pool, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, etc. (then 
good dramatic schools), he might make himself a 
first-rate actor. But to such a course of self-denying 
training I was certain he never would submit, as its 
necessity would not be made apparent to him. The 
injudicious and ignorant flattery, and the factious 


applause of his supporters in low-priced theatres, 
would fill his purse, would blind him to his de- 
ficiency in taste and judgment, and satisfy his 
vanity, confirming his self opinion of attained per- 
fection. I spoke of him constantly as a young man 
of unquestionable promise, but I doubted his sub- 
mission to the inexorable conditions for reaching 
excellence. The event has been as I anticipated. 
His robustious style gains applause in the coarse 
melodramas of ' Spartacus ' and ' Metamora ; ' but 
the traits of character in Shakspere and the poetry 
of the legitimate drama are beyond his grasp. My 
forebodings were prophetic. 
W. C. Macready: ' Reminiscences,' <->4<j^. 21, 1826. 

October 3, 1843. — Dined with Forrest"; met a very 
large party, too large for comfort, but it was most 
kindly intended. Bryant, with whom I talked very 
little, Halleck, and Inman, the artist, were of the 
party. Our day was very cheerful. I like all I see 
of Forrest very much. He appears a clear-headed, 
honest, kind man ; what can be better ? 

/iJ«'(/. .-'Diary.' 

Edinburgh, March 2, 1846. — Acted Hamlet really 
with particular care, energy, and discrimination. The 
audience gave less applause to the first soliloquy than 
I am in the habit of receiving, but I was bent on 
acting the part, and I felt, if I can feel at all, that I 
had strongly excited them, and that their sympathies 
were cordially, indeed, enthusiastically, with me. On 
reviewing the performance, I can conscientiously pro- 
nounce it one of the very best I have given of Hamlet. 


At the waving of the handkerchief before the play, 
and " I must be idle," a man on the right side of the 
stage — upper boxes or gallery, but said to be upper 
boxes — hissed ! The audience took it up, and I 
waved the more, and bowed derisively and con- 
temptuously to the individual. The audience carried 
it, though he was very staunch to his purpose. It 
discomposed me, and, alas ! might have ruined many; 
but I bore it down. I thought of speaking to the 
audience, if called on, and spoke to Murray about it, 
but he very discreetly dissuaded me. Was called for, 
and very warmly greeted. Ryder came and spoke to 
me, and told me that the hisser was observed, and 

said to be a Mr. W , who was in company with 

Mr. Forrest ! The man writes in the Journal, a 
paper depreciating me, and eulogizing Mr. F., sent 
to me from this place. 

March 3. — Fifty-three years have I lived to-day. 
Both Mr. Murray and Mr. Ryder are possessed with 
the belief that Mr. Forrest was the man who hissed 
last night. I begin to think he was the man. 


On October 17 he made his bow to the British 
public. Old Drury was crowded from pit to ceiling 
with an eager and excited audience. All the friends 
of the popular actors of the day congregated in force. 
The American minister, and all the fellow-countrymen 
of Forrest, were likewise present. There was silence 
until Spartacus, the Gladiator, came forward, when a 
hearty shout of welcome broke forth from all parts of 
the house. His magnificent person astonished those 
who had never seen him. His rich and powerful 


voice thrilled all who had not heard it. His earnest, 
impassioned acting quite electrified the audience. At 
the end he was overwhelmed with applause, and it 
was plain he had secured a hold on British sym- 
pathies, which he never lost. There was a clique 
present who were disappointed by his success, and 
when he appeared, at the general demand, to make 
his acknowledgments, they raised the cry of " Shak- 
spere, Shakspere I " Their object was evident. The 
partisans of the popular actors of the time knew it 
would be easier to arouse opposition to a foreigner 
should he attempt a rile the public were accus- 
tomed to see played according to the idiosyncra- 
sies of the tragedians who had successfully assumed 
them, and which only proved my judgment was cor- 
rect in suggesting an original part for Forrest's 

Henry Wyckoff : ' Reminiscences of an Idler/ 
chap. n,pp. 376-7. 

I was taken by one of his great admirers to see him 
as Metamora, and was surprised to find the house [the 
old Chatham Theatre] more than three-fourths empty. 
He, however, acted with his accustomed vigor ; and 
T freely acknowledge that, for power of destructive 
energy, I never heard anything on the stage so tre- 
mendous in its sustained crescendo swell, and crushng 
force of utterance, as his defiance of the Council in 
that play. His voice surged and roared like the angry 
sea lashed into fury by a storm, till, as it reached its 
boiling, seething climax, in which the serpent hiss of 
hate was heard at intervals amidst its louder, deeper, 
hoarser tones, it was like the Falls of Niagara, in its 


tremendous down-sweeping cadence : it was a whirl- 
wind, a tornado, a cataract of illimitable rage. 

George Vandenhoff : ' Leaves from an Actor's 
Note Book,' chap. 12, pp. 200-1, 1842. 

The acting of Forrest was natural, impulsive, and 
ardent, because he was not so well trained as his 
English rivals in what may be termed a false refine- 
ment Forrest was not considered as polished 

an actor as Macready, and was often charged with 
rudeness and violence in his impersonations, and even 
ridiculed for muscularity of manner : and yet I never 
knew a tragedian who did not use all his physical 
power in reaching the climax of his most impassioned 
delineations. It must be remembered that Mr. Forrest 
was a strong man, and when excited his passions 
appeared more extreme than those of one more deli- 
cately organized ; and unqualified condemnation was 
only heard from those who were either unable or 
unwilling to perceive that the traits which distinguished 
our then young actor were really more natural than 
the elaborate presentations and precise mannerisms of 
Macready. Hence the people loved Forrest and fol- 
lowed him, while those who claimed to be the Mite 
admired and applauded Macready, who came endorsed 
by a metropolis which in those days, in matters of art, 

assumed the direction of American judgment 

Although Forrest in his youth had only received what 
was then called a good school training, he furnished 
in his manhood an example of what might have been 
profitably imitated by the young men of his time who, 
with all of the advantages of collegiate education, 
failed to exhibit the progressive intellectual improve- 


ment which steadily marked his course from year to 
year. Many who did not admire his earlier dramatic 
performances were greatly impressed with his manner 
in the later parts of his career, his impersonation of 
Lear being generally considered the crowning point 
of his excellence. Mr. Longfellow, who did not 
admire Mr. Forrest in ' Jack Cade ' or the ' Gladiator,' 
speaking of his Lear, said it was a noble performance, 
well worthy the admiration of the lovers of good 

James E. Murdoch: 'The Stage,' chap. 15, pp. 

It was at my desk he perused the letter refusing the 
nomination of the Democratic party of the City of 
New York to run for Member of Congress. When I 
asked him why the honor conferred upon his profes- 
sion, by his election, was not sufficient inducement to 
run the hazard of the die, the reply was characteristic 
of the man — " I want no further honor, and can't 
afford to give my time for eight dollars a day, when I 
can make two hundred out of it. The day may come 
when I shall make the game of politics my study ; and 
then it will be time enough to present myself to the 
suffrages of my fellow-countrymen." 

F. C. Wemyss : * Twenty-six Years of the Life of 
an Actor,'/. 324. 

However much Macready moves one at a time by 
the subtle intellect of his personification, I never am 
much the better for it afterwards — never find a word, 
a look, an attitude written on my heart. There are cer- 
tain points of Mr. Forrest's playing that I shall never 


forget to my dying day. There is a force, without 
violence, in his passionate parts, which he owes much 
to his physical conformation ; but which, thrown into 
the body of an infirm old king (his Lear was very 
kingly), is most awful and withering ; as, for instance, 
where he slides down upon his knees, with — 

For, as I am a man, I think this lady 
To be my child, Cordelia. 

Henry F. Chorley : ' Memoirs,' vol. i., chap. 4. 

Of the actors whom I have seen, Salvini not ex- 
cepted, Forrest alone possessed a physique such as one 
conceives to have been moulded expressly for the 
assumption of heroic rSIes. His figure, though its 
bulk would certainly have seemed excessive in these 
days, when even the athlete is fain to submit himself 
to the restrictive code of sestheticism, was symmet- 
rically proportioned, and suggestive not only of 
perfect health and herculean strength, but of a certain 
kind of grandeur. His countenance was very hand- 
some, and capable of taking on a rich glow. His voice 
was so powerful and clear that its lightest tones fell 
upon the distant ear as if there were no intervening 
space, and, when unrestrained, it had the fulness and 
mellowness that belong only to the finest organs. It 
would have seemed ridiculous that he should be cast 
for any parts except the greatest : the other actors, 
even those who were taller, looked insignificant beside 
him, and their voices, when strongest, .seemed thin, 
and, if I may so apply the word, juiceless, in the 

John Foster Kirk, in Lippincotfs Magazine, June, 


Mr. Forrest has one great merit. If he sometimes 
tears " a passion to tatters " he never allows it to 
" come tardy off," and the spectator is interested how- 
ever much he may find to censure. As John Philip 
Kemble said of Edmund Kean, he is "terribly in 
earnest." In Roman characters his lofty and dignified 
bearing cannot but challenge admiration, and in his 
delineation of the noble virtues of Damon and Brutus, 
his contempt for tyranny and oppression seems but 
the echo of his own individual feelings. The friends 
of Forrest have already blended with his name many 
of the virtues of his Roman characters, and we are 
inclined to the opinion that he is not undeserving of 

' The Actor,' chap. <),pp. 84-5. 

What especially I find to admire in Mr. Forrest is 
his power to move me. He has great faults ; he rants 
undoubtedly ; he roars and bellows at times in the 
most unpleasant manner ; he conceives some parts 
very differently from my idea of them ; and I never 
see him without disapproving of many things that he 
does. But I never see him without confessing his 
ability. He possesses the true dramatic talent — the 
power to make you weep and shudder at his will. He 
himself feels what he represents. 

Adam Badeau : 'The Vagabond,' Edwin Forrest. 

But the first actor who made a profound and lasting 
impression upon me was Edwin Forrest. Had this 
man learnt his art in an old country, amid cultured 
surroundings, had he enjoyed the advantages of acting 
only before refined and intellectual audiences, a means 


of education of inestimable value, he would have gone 
down to posterity on a footing with Garrick, Mrs. Sid- 
dons, Talma, and Edmund Kean. But the audiences 
he attracted were not the most refined, and their wild 
enthusiasm only confirmed in him faults which some- 
times dimmed, but were powerless to quench the lustre 
of his genius. Physically, he was endowed beyond any 
actor I have ever seen. He might have stood to a 
sculptor as a model for Hercules. His form was 
massive, but beautifully proportioned. His Roman 
head was well set upon a neck like the trunk of a tree. 
His face expressed the perfection of manly strength of 
mind, and harmonized well with the power of his 
limbs, and lastly his voice was in perfect keeping with 
the rest of his physique. In volume, resonance, 
melody, and compass, it was phenomenal, while its 
power of endurance was such, that no amount of ill- 
usuage seemed to affect its purity. I have seen him 
play two tragedy parts in one night, and to the 
last his tones were clear as a bell. Add to these 
qualities the fact that he was endowed with dramatic 
genius of equal fibre, and you will ask, " What then 

did he lack? " He lacked the high polish of art 

Amusing stories were told of the abuse of his great 
physical strength, from which his brother actors occa- 
sionally suffered. For instance, when Lucullus tells his 
master Damon, that, by killing his horse, he has pre- 
vented Danwn from returning in time, to save the life 
oi Pythias, who has remained with Dionysius as hostage 
for his friend, Forrest, after a terrible scream, waited 
for the Gods to execute his prayer upon Lucullns, 
then springing upon him with .the words, " I'll tear 
thee into pieces," proceeded to carry out his threat as 


nearly as the law would allow. He lifted him from the 
ground, dashed him down, mopped the stage with 
him, and dragging him off the stage, left him to re- 
cover as best he might. Some one seeing the pale and 
trembling fellow gasping for breath, and bleeding, 
asked him what was the matter. Lucullus stammered 
out, with a piteous pride in the honor of the thing, "I 
have been playing with Forrest." " Indeed," returned 
the other, " by the look of you I should have thought 
that Forrest had been playing with you." 

Forrest, however, could be intense without violence, 
as he proved in 'Theresa ; or. The Orphan of Geneva,' 
in which, as Carivin, he was never loud till the last 
speech, and yet contrived to fascinate his audience by 
his Satanic wickedness. On the other hand, his " Curse 
your Senate," as Pierre, in ' Venice Preserved,' was 
like the explosion of a bombshell, that made the au- 
dience fairly jump from their seats. From such an 
actor little could be learnt. His merits were born 
with him, and could not be imitated. Those who have 
tried to model themselves upon him have ruined their 
own voices without acquiring his, and generally have 
shared the fate of the frog in the fable, who tried to 
swell himself out to the size of the ox. 

Herman Vezin, in the Dramatic Review, Feb. 22, 

Forrest had extraordinary physical advantages, and 
though he failed to make them properly responsive to 
the calls of deep or wild emotion (had he succeeded 
in this, his rightful eminence would have been as little 
disputed as was that of Talma or Mrs Siddons), he 
displayed them intelligently, and with a very pleasing 


effect in many scenes and passages of a less exacting 
nature. He acted best wlien he acted least, — when he 
was content to let his fine face, his imposing figure, 
and the full, pure tones of his unforced voice exert 
their natural charm. There were speeches with a 
tincture of poetry or sentiment — in the ' Lady of 
Lyons,' for example — which flowed frpm his lips like 
a strain of simple melody. There are lines in ' Othello ' 
which seem to demand such a voice as his more than 
any other gift. One of them is — 

Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them, 

in which, though he left the delicate irony unexpressed, 
the calm, deep sound seemed to suspend the clashing 
weapons by some inherent irresistible sway. Another 

is — 

Silence that dreadful bell, it frights the isle 
From her propriety ? 

of which the utterance was itself bell-like, but without 
harshness or clangor. In the last act, 

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul ! 

if not equally impressive, is recalled to my memory in 
strong contrast with the delivery of " ' Twas I that did 
it ? " with the exaggerated emphasis on the first word 
and the exaggerated prolongation of the second, 
accompanied by a vigorous thumping on the breast, 
like some barbarian chief boasting of his warlike 

John Foster Kirk, in Lippincott's Magazine, June, 

Old Mr. Burke, the father of the youthful dramatic 
and musical prodigy so popular half a century ago. 


when he heard of Mr. Forrest as a distinguished per- 
former, said, " Does he draw big houses ? " and being 
told that he did, he exclaimed " Thus, by the powers ! 
he's a great actor ! " 

James E. Murdoch : 'The Stage,' chap. 15,/. 297, 
foot note. 

Forney tells a good story about a visit which he paid 
with Forrest to Henry Clay, soon after the passage of 
the compromise measure. The colonel unguardedly 
complimented a speech made by Senator Soule, which 
made Mr. Clay's eyes flash, and he proceeded to criti- 
cise him very severely, ending by saying, "He is 
nothing but an actor, sir, — a mere actor ! " Then, 
suddenly recollecting the presence of the tragedian, 
he dropped his tone, and turning towards Mr. Forrest 
said, with a graceful gesture, " I mean, my dear sir, a 
mere French actor '. " The visitors soon afterward 
took their leave, and as they descended the stairs 
Forrest turned towards Forney and said, " Mr. Clay 
has proved by the skill with which he can change his 
manner, and the grace with which he can make an 
apology, that he is a better actor than Soul^." 

Atlantic Monthly, May, 1881. 

The unfortunate being who chanced to cut him out 
of a scene, as the theatrical phrase has it, would, dur- 
ing the remainder of the great man's engagement, find 
his life a burden. Mr. Gilbert is not alone in believing 
that Forrest was not only a truly wonderful actor, but 
a bully and a coward. It is a matter of record that 
on one occasion, in the Tremont Theatre, he tormented 
a little fellow one-third his size almost to madness. 


but when the young man at last turned upon him with 
a Roman's sword from "the property-room," swearing 
to take his life, he fled to his dressing-room in the 
wildest alarm, and did not come out again until the 
danger, if there was any, was passed. 

Upon another occasion, while Mr. Gilbert was stage 
manager of the Tremont Theatre, one of the stock 
company, a sensitive young man, during a rehearsal, 
became so frightened and confused by Forrest's bully- 
ing directions and abuse that he forgot his lines. 
When the' rehearsal was over Forrest went to Mr. 
Gilbert and complained bitterly of the young man ; 
asked why in the name of hades he could not have 
better support. 

"Mr. Smith knows his part well, and can play It 
well," replied Gilbert coolly. 

"Knows his part, Sir; knows his part! Damn it. 
Sir, he can't remember a line of it," thundered For- 

" You frightened it out of his head." 

" I frighten him ? How, Sir, how ? " 

" By abusing and badgering him," answered Gilbert, 
his blood getting warmer. " If you had not interfered 
with him there would have been no trouble. Let him 
. alone and he will play the part to-night as well as it 
can be played." This proved to be the case, and from 
that time forward Mr. Forrest had no more complaints 
to make to Stage-manager Gilbert. 

In money matters, the great actor is said to have 
been close and grasping to a degree which thoroughly 
disgusted the warm-hearted, open-handed men and 
women who were his associates on the stage. At the 
end of one short engagement at the Tremont Theatre 


his share of the receipts amounted to $4,000 and 
though the managers lost by their contract with him, 
and for the moment were unable to pay the stock 
company, he exacted the prompt payment of the last 
penny which was his due. The money was handed 
over to him, a few odd dollars being in rolls of twenty- 
five cent pieces, and he left the box-office. Half an 
hour afterward he returned with one of these rolls, 
and, taking a piece of silver from it, said to the 
treasurer, in his own peculiarly pompous manner, 
" This quarter, Sir, which you have given" me, is not 

" What's the matter with it ? " asked the treasurer, 

" It has worn smooth, Sir, and the people at the 
bank refuse to take it. You must give me another 
for it." 

The treasurer, who was a good deal of a wagj handed 
Mr. Forrest a bright new quarter, took he worn piece, 
and, with the words, " 1 wouldn't sell these two shil- 
lings for five dollars," slipped it into his pocket. That 
night the story of Forrest and the smooth quarter was 
known all over Boston. 

Howard Carroll : 'Twelve Famous Americans.' 
John Gilbert. 

It is told that Forrest, the tragedian, coming among 
the list of stars, Phillips was assif^ned the part of 
Horatio, in ' Hamlet.' At rehearsal, during the first 
act, a difficulty arose from Phill'ps being unable to 
give the emphasis Forrest wished conveyed to 
Horatio's line, " I warrant it will." The progress 
of the rehearsal was interrupted, and many times 


the following dialogue repeated, without producing 
the desired effect : 

Hamlet. — " I will watch to-night, 

Perchance 'twill walk again.' 
Horatio. — "I warrant it will." 

" No, no, no," roared Forrest ; " deliver it in this 
way, Mr., Mr., Mr. — Phillips." Forrest repeated the 
instruction a dozen times. Finally, Phillips, looking 
at the stage-manager with a very serious countenance, 
remarked, " My salary is eight dollars per week, 
and — " Forrest, enraged, interrupted him, exclaim- 
ing, " Sir, we are not here to discuss salaries ; can 
you or can you not speak that line in this way ? " 
Then, giving the line with the required force and 
expression, he paused and glared at Phillips, who 
very coolly and deliberately answered, " No, sir ; if 
I could deliver it in that way, my salary would be 
five hundred dollars per night." The humor of the 
remark was too much for Forrest's gravity even. 
With a characteristic grunt, (such as 'only Forrest 
could utter,) the tragedian walked to the " prompt 
table " and, with a smile, said to to the manager, 
"Let Mr. Phillips' salary be doubled at my expense 
during my engagement." Night came, and poor 
Phillips, elated with good fortune, and over-anxious 
to please Forrest, ruined everything. 

" I will watch to-night," 
said Hamlet, 

" Perchance 'twill walk again," 

quickly replied Horatio, taking the sentence out of 
Hamlet's mouth. Forrest with difficulty restrained 
his passion, and when he came off the stage, fuming 


with rage, roared, " I will give one hundred dol- 
lars per week for life to any one who will kill Mr. 
John S. Clarke : * Era Almanack,' 1874,/. 69. 

On one occasion, Mr. Edwin Forrest, the American 
tragedian, then a young man, and more famous for 
his muscle than his genius, gave a most tremendous 
display of really powerful acting. He was supposed 
to represent a Roman warrior, and to be attacked by 
six minions of a detested tyrant. At the rehearsals, 
Mr. Forrest found a great deal of fault with the 
supers who condescended to play the minions. They 
were too tame. They didn't lay hold of him. They 
didn't go in as if it were a real fight. Mr. Forrest 
stormed and threatened ; the supers sulked and con- 
sulted. At length the captain of the supers inquired, 
in his local slang, " Yer want this to be a bully fight, 
eh ! " "I do," replied Mr. Forrest. " All right," 
rejoined the captain, and the rehearsal quietly 
proceeded. In the evening the little theatre was 
crowded, and Mr. Forrest was enthusiastically re- 
ceived. When the fighting scene occurred, the great 
tragedian took the centre of the stage, and the six 
minions entered rapidly and deployed in skirmishing 
order. At the cue, " Seize him ! " one minion as- 
sumed a pugilistic attitude and struck a blow straight 
from the shoulder upon the prominent nose of the 
Roman hero ; another raised him about six inches 
from the stage by a well-directed kick, and others 
made ready to rush in for a decided tussle. For 
a moment Mr. Forrest stood astounded, his broad 
chest heaving with rage, his great eyes flashing with 


fire, his legs planted like columns upon the stage. 
Then came a few minutes of powerful acting, at the 
end of which one super was found sticking head 
foremost in a bass-drum in the orchestra, four were 
having their wounds dressed in the greenroom, and 
one, finding himself in the flies, rushed out upon the 
roof of the theatre and shouted " Fire ! " at the top 
of his voice ; while Mr. Forrest, called before the 
curtain, bowed his thanks pantingly to the applaud- 
ing audience, who looked upon the whole affair as 
part of the piece, and " had never seen Forrest act 
so splendidly." 

Stephen Fiske : 'Era Almanack,' 1873,/. 57. 

In one of his later traveling experiences Forrest 
reached a small town where the stage appliances were 
beneath contempt, and where this theory of his might 
find a test. His manager feared to tell him how 
meagre were the scenes which must represent Elsi- 
nore; but as night approached he was forced, of 
course, to speak. He had hung two American flags 
at the stage openings, and these represented drop 
curtains as well as palace, platform, chamber and 
castle. Instead of anger and annoyance, Forrest only 
smiled as he saw these preparations, and he declared 
that nothing could be better. He would show the 
audience that 'Hamlet' could be played in that 
foreign frame with none of its powers shorn or 
weakened, while his own patriotism would stimulate 
his energies, as his eyes rested on the banners of his 
native land. 

Lawrence Barrett : ' Life of Forrest,' Prologue, 



It will no longer be possible for any one to think of 
the actor as a burly ruffian, whose legs and lungs were 
more powerful than his brain. Mr. Alger shows him 
to us as a lover of his art, a student of Shakspere, a 
man with a tender heart and an open purse. At the 
age of twenty-one he was able to command a salary 
of two hundred dollars a night. Ignorant, conceited, 
and successful, he educated himself ; he worked hard 
at his profession ; he traveled and studied ; he neg- 
lected no opportunity of self-improvement. As an 
actor, he aimed at the best ; his execution, always 
direct, became at last more and more refined ; the boy 
at nineteen had dared to play King Lear; at sixty there 
was but little lacking in the awful picture the man then 
presented of that majestic ruin. Side by side with his 
good points his biographer shows the bad — his pride, 
his prejudice, his profanity, his brooking of no con- 
tradiction, his brooding over an insult or an injury. 
In his career there was something characteristically 
American, and even in the man himself Mr. Alger sees 
something typical of his nationality : "If occasionally 
in some things he practised the American vice — self- 
will, unconscious bigotry entrenched in a shedding 
conceit — he prevailingly exemplified the American 
virtue : tolerance, frankness, generosity." 

Brander Matthews, in the Nation, April, 23, 

Edwin Forrest is a grate acter. I thot I saw 
Otheller before me all the time he was actin'; and 
when the curtin fell I found my spectacles was still 
mistened with salt-water which had run from my eyes 
while poor Desdemony was a-dyin'. Betsy Jane, Betsy 


Jane ! let us pray that our domestic bliss may never be 
busted by a lago. Edwin Forrest makes money actin' 
out on the stage. He gits five hundred dollars a 
nite, and his board and washin*. I wish I had such a 
Forrest in my Carding ! 

Artemus Ward ; ' His Book, Edwin Forrest as 



Honest and hearty, howso curt and gruff, 

None knew but to respect the sterling soul. 
To learn that deep down in his gnarlfed stuff 

Lay a soft core beneath the rugged bole. 
Farewell to him, and honor to his work, 

Done years ago, but not yet passed away ; 
Whose growths in unexpected places lurk. 

To bless and cheer, to solace and to stay. 

Tom Taylor, 



Samuel Phelps was the last, and by no means 
the least, not only of a generation, but of a dynasty 
of actors, — the- Shaksperean dynasty, — founded by 
Burbage, and stretching in an unbroken line from 
Betterton downwards. For two hundred years the 
stage was at no time without its two or three 
"legitimate" actors, — men who had been trained in 
the classic drama, who could move with ease and 
dignity through the whole poetic repertory ; to 
whom the march of sonorous iambics was as little 
of a mystery as the modulations of the hexameter 
to the ancient rhapsodists. These familiars of the 
"grave cothurnate muse" were often excellent come- 
dians as well, but their comedy was always of the 
heroic order. Only a few, like the universal Garrick, 
were low comedians, or even "character actors." 
Amid all their differences of method, the members 
of this dynasty passed on from generation to genera- 
tion a great tradition and a grpat repertory. They 
all owned the same ideal ; they all worked, in great 
measure, upon the same material. The race survives 
in America, like many another good old English 

♦ I desire to express my great obligation to Mr. W. May Phelps, nephew of 
Samuel Phelps, who has kindly placed at my disposal much of the material 
collected by him for his forthcoming biography of his uncle. — W. A. 



Stock, in the person of Mr. Edwin Booth. Phelps, 
its last English scion, though he lived to see Mr. 
Irving almost in the plenitude of his power, would 
probably have been more at home with Burt and 
Mohun at the Cockpit than on the Lyceum stage. 
Betterton, Booth, Quin, Garrick, Kemble, Macready, 
Phelps, — so run the representative names, the last 
linked to the first by an unbroken chain of tradition. 
Phelps trod the stage in the buskin of Burbage; but 
to whom has he bequeathed it ? 

Samuel Phelps was born at Devonport, February, 
13, 1804.* He was educated at the Classical School, 
Saltash, and began life as a proof-reader on a Plymouth 
newspaper. His participation in private theatricals 
led to domestic difficulties, and at the age of seventeen 
he ran away from home, arriving in London, May, 
1 82 1. He found employment as reader on the staff of 
the Globe, and afterwards on the Sun, making the ac- 
quaintance of Douglas Jerrold, who was then engaged 
as a compositor in the Globe office. He soon became a 
leading spirit in a company of amateur actors, but did 
not take to the regular stage until five years later. In 
1826 he married (in London) a young lady named 
Miss Sarah Cooper, and a month or two afterwards 
joined the company which worked the York circuit. 
His provincial career was chequered and laborious. 
Some account of it will be found in the ' Memoir ' 
written by Mr. John Coleman, who does not, however, 
pretend to accuracy of detail, and who attributes to Mr. 
Phelps a slangy vulgarity of language quite foreign to 

• It was not bis father, as generally stated, but his eldest brother who was 
• wine merchant. His father, at the time of his birth, was in business as a 
naval outfitter ia Plymouth.— W. A. 


his habit. In 1831,31 some theatre in the north of 
England, he played Wilford to the Sir Edward Mor- 
timer of Edmund Kean, who warmly praised and 
encouraged him. Under the management of Watkins 
Burroughs and Ryder he spent some time in Ireland, 
and in the Scotch provincial towns, acquiring in the 
latter the accent which he afterwards used with such 
effect in Sir Pertinax Mac Sycophant. He did not 
emerge from obscurity until October, 1836, when he 
appeared at Exeter with great applause. His fame 
soon reached London, and in the following year we 
find Macready and Benjamin Webster competing for 
his services, the former going down to Southampton 
for the special purpose, it would seem, of seeing and 
engaging him (' Diary,' Aug. 14, 1837). He made his 
first appearance in London at the Haymarket under 
Webster's management on Aug. 28, 1837, playing 
Shylock to the Portia of Miss Huddart (Mrs. Warner). 
He was favorably received, and appeared twelve times 
in all before the close of his engagement on Oct. 7, 
his parts being Sir Edward Mortimer, Hamlet, Othello 
and Richard III. On Oct. 27, of the same year, he 
joined Macready at Covent Garden, appearing as 
Jaffier to the manager's Pierre. There seems to be 
no doubt that his success alarmed the timorous 
Macready, who, recording in his diary (Aug. 29) the 
success of Phelps's appearance at the Haymarket, con- 
fesses that he "starts at every shadow of an actor." 
During the two seasons of his management he sub- 
ordinated the new-comer not only to himself but to 
Anderson, Vandenhoff and Elton, in a way which 
Phelps keenly resented. Nevertheless, chances of 
distinction were not wanting. During the first season 


Phelps played Othello to Macready's lago, Macduff to 
his Macbeth (frequently), Cassius to his Brutus, Du- 
mont to his Hastings (in 'Jane Shore '), and Adrastus 
to his Ion. Phelps was excluded, however, from the 
cast of ' Romeo and Juliet,' ' Coriolanus,' ' Lear,' the 
' Two Foscari,' and the ' Ljdy of Lyons,' which was 
the great success of the season. In the following 
season (1838-9) Phelps played Tullus Aufidius, Post- 
humus, Antonio (' Tempest '), Marcus (' Cato '), the 
Constable of France ('Henry V.'), and the First 
Lord (!) in 'As You Like It.' He also created the part 
of _/^.ri?/5/« in ' Richelieu.' In the autumn of 1839 he 
supported Macready at the Haymarket, playing lago^ 
Othello, Jacques, Antonio (' Merchant of Venice ' ), 
Master Walter and Beausi'ant, and creating the part 
of Onsloiv in Bulwer's ' Sea-Captain.' From January 
to March, 1840, he appeared with Macready at Drury 
Lane, under the abortive management of W. J. Ham- 
mond, playing Macduff, Darnley (' Mary Stuart ' ), and 
Rolla. He returned to the Haymarket in March, 1840, 
and remained a member of the company until July, 
1841, though the great success of ' Money ' kept him 
idle for several months. The chief additions to his 
list of parts were the Ghost in ' Hamlet ' (which he 
played both to Macready and Charles Kean), Henry 
VI. in Gibber's ' Richard III,' Steinfort (in the 
'Stranger'), Gabor ('Werner'), Major Oakley, Old 
Dornton, Joseph Surface, Falkland and Baradas. In 
August and September, 1841, he appeared at the 
Lyceum in the title part of Mr. G. Stephens's ' Marti- 
nuzzi', and in the following winter he rejoined Macready 
at Drury Lane. During the two seasons of 1 841-2 and 
1842-3, he stood upon very cordial terms with his 


manager, and was within an ace of accompanying him 
on his American tour in 1843. Among his new parts 
during these two seasons may be mentioned the Duke 
of Milan ('Two Gentlemen of Verona'), Hubert 
(' King John ' — a great success), Adam ('As You Lilce 
It ' ), Bellarius (' Cymbeline '), Leonato (' Much Ado ' ), 
Gascoyne ('Henry IV.,' Pt. 2.), On February 11, 
1843, he created the" part of Thorold in Browning's 
' Blot in the 'Scutcheon,' which ran for only three 
nights. In the autumn of 1843 Henry Wallack made 
an abortive attempt at management, opening Covent 
Garden with the announcement that Phelps, Anderson 
and Vandenhoff would appear in ' Othello,' ' Julius 
Caesar,' ' King John,' and ' Macbeth,' playing in rota- 
tion the parts of Othello, lago and Cassioj Brutus 
Cassias and Antony j John Faulconbridge and Hubert; 
Macbeth, Macduff, Banquo. Only three of these per- 
formances were given : two of ' Othello,' and one of 
' Julius Cassar,' the theatre being shortly afterwards 
given over to a company of French children. 

"Bulwer's Act" of 1843 had in the meantime abol- 
ished the monopoly of the patent theatres and estab- 
lished free trade in the drama. Phelps was prompt 
to take advantage of this change. In conjunction 
with Mrs. Warner and Mr. T. L. Greenwood he took 
Sadler's Wells Theatre, a playhouse of no very lofty 
associations, frequented by the lowest and roughest 
suburban audiences, and situated within a few hundred 
yards of that classic tavern, the Angel, at Islington. 
The new management cleaned and renovated the 
interior, and opened their campaign on Monday, May 
27, 1844, with 'Macbeth,' Phelps and Mrs. Warner, 
of course, playing the Thane and his Lady. Their 


difficulties were at first enormous. Not only had they 
to educate the minds of their public, but to chasten its 
manners and moderate its language. Little by little 
Sadler's Wells, with its two-shilling boxes, shilling pit 
and sixpenny gallery became as decorous as any West- 
End theatre of to-day, and far more appreciative of 
the beauties and subtleties of poetic drama. The 
untiring energy of Phelps, not only as actor but as 
stage-manager, enabled him to present worthily during 
the eighteen years of this heroic enterprise (for so it 
deserves to be called) almost all the masterpieces of 
our classic drama. Of the thirty-seven plays attributed 
to Shakspere, he produced all but six, namely the three 
parts of 'Henry VI,' 'Titus Andronicus,' 'Troilusand 
Cressida,' and 'Richard II.' The number of Shak- 
sperean performances amounted in all to four thousand, 
'Hamlet' alone being played more than four hundred 
times. Not only Shakspere but the other great Eliza- 
bethans found a place in the Sadler's Wells repertory ; 
not only the Elizabethans but the comedy writers of 
the Eighteenth century from Congreve to Colman ; 
not only the classics but the moderns — Bulwer Lytton 
with the 'Lady of Lyons' and 'Richelieu,' Browning 
with the ' Blot in the 'Scutcheon,' Tom Taylor with the 
' Fool's Revenge,' and many others.* Professor Henry 
Morley, the historiographer of this memorable manage- 
ment, describes in his 'Journal of a London Playgoer' 
the marvelous intelligence and adroitness with which 
Phelps utilized the limited means at his command in 
playing on the stage such difficult plays ' A Midsummer 

* He produced at least two plays by American authors — John Howard Payne's 
' Bratus ' and G. H. Boker's ' Calaynos.'— W. A. 


Night's Dream,' 'Timon of Athens' and ' Pericles' — 
the last, by the way, one of his greatest successes. 
In his suburban corner he maintained a successful 
rivalry with Charles Kean at the Princess's, not, indeed, 
in the splendor, but in the appropriateness of his 
stage-settings, while there can be little doubt that he 
was more careful than his fashionable competitor to 
give his productions their due literary value. A fair 
amount of pecuniary success attended this manage- 
ment, but it by no means enriched the partners. 
Greenwood retired in April, i860, and Phelps himself 
in March, 1862, though he played a farewell engage- 
ment under his successor in the following autumn and 
did not take his final leave of his Islington audiences 
until Nov. 6, his last part being Brutus in 'Julius 

After leaving Sadler's . Wells, Phelps became a 
wanderer in the theatrical world. He appeared for 
several seasons under the management of Mr. F. B. 
Chatterton at Drury Lane and the Princess's, playing 
in addition to his chief Shaksperean characters, such 
parts as Manfred, Mepkisiopkeles, Marino Faliero, and 
the leading characters in Halliday's adaptations of 
Scott. In 1870 he appeared at the Queen's Theatre, 
under the management of Mr. Labouchere, as Bottom 
and Prospero. Under Mr. Hollingshead's management 
he made frequent appearances at the Gaiety from 1873 
onwards, in conjunction with Charles James Mathews, 
J. L. Toole, Herman Vezin, Lionel Brough, Arthur 
Cecil, Mrs. John Wood, etc. Here he played Cant- 
well (in the ' Hypocrite '), Job Thornberry (' John 
Bull '), Sir Pertinax MacSycophant, Sir Peter Teazle, 
Falstaff i^yi^ny Wives '), Bottom, Jacques, Lord Ogleby, 


Richelieu, Shy lock, etc. His last performances took 
place at the Aquarium (Imperial) Theatre in 1878, 
where he was announced to appear on alternate after- 
noons as Richelieu and as Wolsey. It was in the latter 
part that his final break-down occurred, Feb. 27, 1878. 
He spoke his great speech up to the words, 

' ' Cromwell, Cromwell, 
Had I but served my God " — 

at which point he tottered and almost fell into the 
arms of Mr. Norman Forbes {Cromwell^, by whom 
he was led off the stage, never to return to it. He 
died at Anson's Farm, Coopersale, near Epping, 
Essex, Nov. 6, 1878. 

Phelps was undoubtedly one of the best " all 
round" actors the English stage has known. He 
does not stand in the front rank with Betterton, 
Garrick, and Kean, but he takes an honorable place 
in the second line with such actors as Quin, Macklin, 
Kemble, Young, and Macready. A fine forehead, a 
strong and well-cut nose, a wide and flexible mouth, 
and well-marked and mobile eyebrows would have 
constituted a perfect actor's face had it not been 
marred by the narrow and rather colorless eyes. 
His physique was suited rather for character parts 
than for the strictly heroic. He played Hamlet when 
he was in his sixty-ninth year, — at the Princess's, in 
November, 1872, — but he played Romeo for the last 
time at Liverpool shortly before he opened Sadler's 
Wells, contenting himself afterwards with Mercutio. 
"Good tragedian as he is," says Professor Morley, 
" it is in a sort of comedy, vaguely to be defined as 
dry and intellectual, but in his hands always most 


diverting, that Mr. Phelps finds the bent of his genius 
as an actor to be the most favored." Among his best 
parts of this order were Malvolio, Bottom, Shallow, 
Armado, Parolles. His Falstaff, though full of in- 
tellectual humor, was, in wine-bibber's slang (the 
aptest for the occasion), deficient in "fruity" rich- 
ness. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether a 
better Shylock or Sir Pertinax has been seen since 
Macklin. He was "great," says Tom Taylor, "in 
parts like Old Dornton and Job Thornberry; " and the 
same critic bears a strong testimony to his versatility 
when he says, " If ever actor satisfied author, Phelps 
satisfied me in Bertuccio." Among his chief manner- 
isms was an undue slowness of delivery ; but this 
habit, if we may believe Professor Morley, was ac- 
quired at Sadler's Wells, "when he was training a 
rude audience to the enjoyment of dramatic poetry, 
and endeavored to assure life in slow minds to every 
word." It was thus, so to speak, an honorable scar 
gained in the great battle of his life. 

In private life Phelps was a man of strict probity 
and great natural kindHness, though his manner was 
not always of the most suave. His wife, to whom he 
was greatly devoted, died in 1867, and out of a family 
of three sons and three daughters, one son and two 
daughters survived him. He was to the last an en- 
thusiastic brother of the angle, and spent the greater 
part of his hours of relaxation on the banks of the 
river Darent, near Farningham, Kent. 

William Archer. 


" Who is the young man who played Tubal to-night ? " 
inquired Edmund Kean, after playing Shylock at a 
theatre in the north at this time. " Samuel Phelps, 
sir." " Please send him to me." The young actor, 
fearing that he had made some terrible blunders, 
proceeded to the tragedian's dressing room " Mr. 
Phelps," said the great tragedian, clapping him on the 
shoulder, "you have played Tubal very, very well; 
persevere and you'll make a name." 

The Theatre, December, 1878. 

Mr. Phelps represented the Prince [in ' Pericles '], 
sinking gradually under the successive blows of fate, 
with an unostentatious truthfulness ; but in that one 
scene which calls forth all the strength of the artist, the 
recognition of Marina and the sudden lifting of the 
Prince's bruised and fallen spirit to an ecstacy of joy, 
there was an opportunity for one of the most effective 
displays of the power of an actor that the stage, as it 
now is, affords. With immense energy, yet with a true 
feeling for the pathos of the situation that had the 
most genuine effect, Mr. Phelps achieved in this pas- 
sage a triumph marked by plaudit after plaudit. They 
do not applaud rant at Sadler's Wells. The scene 
was presented truly by the actor, and fully felt by 
his audience. 

Henry Morley : ' Journal of a London Playgoer', 
Oct. 21, 1854. 

Mr. Phelps has of late been the promoter of 

about thirty of the characters of Shakspere. Great 
men or small, heroes or cowards, sages or simpletons, 
sensual or spiritual men, he has taken all as characters 


that Shakspere painted, studied them minutely, and 
embodied each in what he thinks to be a true Shak- 
sperean form. Bottom the Weaver, Brutus, Falstaff, 
Macbeth, Ch?-istoJ>her Sly, are characters assumed by 
the same man, not to display some special power in 
the actor, but the range of power in the poet to whose 
illustration he devotes himself. Good tragedian as he 
is, I suppose that it is in a sort of comedy, vaguely to 
be defined as dry and intellectual, but in his hands 
always most diverting, that Mr. Phelps finds the bent 
of his genius as an actor to be the most favored. Thus 
in Malvolio he would appear to have a part pretty 
exactly suited to his humor, none the less so because 
there is perhaps no character in which he is himself 
lost sight of so completely ; substance vanishes, and 

shadow lives Other MalvoUos, seen by the 

playgoers of this generation, have been more fan- 
tastical, and caused more laughter — although this one 
causes much — but the impression made by them has 
been less deep. Few who have seen, or may see, at 
Sadler's Wells the Spanish-looking steward of Coun- 
tess Olivia, and laughed at the rise and fall of his 
chdteau en Espagne, will forget him speedily. Like a 
quaint portrait, in which there are master strokes, his 
figure may dwell in the mind for years. 
Ibid., Dec. 13, 1856. 

Mr. Phelps undertook to create a classic thea- 
tre at Sadler's Wells, where previously there had 
been nothing but clowning and spectacle. He 
found the place in the barbarous condition to which 
such a training of taste might naturally lead. Not 
only did it seem preposterous to suppose that the 
IV.— 6 


Clerkenwell and Islington audiences would ever be 
brought to take a remunerative interest in the best 
plays and playing, but the vilest uproars, the grossest 
disorders used to occur in the building nightly, so 
that it is an early tradition of Mr. Phelps's lesseeship 
that he had actually to throw a cloak over his the- 
atrical dress and rush up into the gallery in order to 
secure something like decorum and quiet. But he 
stuck to his text, and that text was for the most part 
the text of Shakspere. He found some of the best of 
our actors willing to aid him, he trained others. He did 
not suffer the roughness of the audience to tempt him 
with mean or slip-shod productions. He tried upon 
them the effect of fine scenery, picturesque decora- 
tions, grand effects, but all subordinated loyally to 
noble acting, to just elocution, to original and power- 
ful conceptions and interpretations of the greatest 
works. You may know how surely, and comparatively 
speaking, how rapidly he triumphed — how scarcely a 
great play of Shakspere, or indeed any great author, 
was omitted from his unprecedented list of classical 
revivals, — how the same gallery, which at first roared 
itself hoarse while the play went on in dumb-show, 
became hushed in rapt admiration ; how between the 
acts the theatre became one humming aesthetic 
debating party in which points of acting and interpre- 
tation were debated with the keenest interest ; how 
its fame spread on the wings of the press throughout 
the whole world of English speech ; and how, in fact, 
it became by force of mere popular success, a classical 
national theatre, more truly than any that was ever 
established by means of royal patronage or imperial 
subventions. Mr. Phelps has much to be proud of in 


the artistic creations of his histrionic power, and 
scarcely less in his great historic encouragement, 
secured forever by his faith and patience to all who 
labor in the same cause. 

Henry Irving : ' Address at the Perry Bar Insti- 
tute,' March 6, 1878. 

When the play ['Fool's Revenge'] was produced 
on Oct. 18, 1857, after three weeks of patient and 
laborious rehearsal, more than equivalent to twice as 
much time less well employed, the good result was 
apparent in a smooth, level, and satisfactory per- 
formance, with no stage hitch in scenery, speech, or 
movement, in which nothing had been left to chance, 
nothing sacrificed to carelessness. Phelps himself was 
admirable in the part of Bertuccio, which in the earlier 
scenes perfectly suited his sardonic and saturnine 
manner, while in the interview with his daughter 
it gave scope for that deep and yearning affection 
beneath the hardness and harshness which made the 
actor so great in parts like Old Dornton and Job 
Thornberry, to my mind beyond question his master- 
pieces ; while in the third act it afforded an oppor- 
tunity, of which Phelps availed himself with immense 
effect, of presenting the cross-currents of many 
moods and motives, — exulting malignancy, snake- 
like insinuation, anticipated triumph, gratified re- 
venge, passing through many phases of doubt and 
bewilderment, and culminating in the horrible con- 
viction that Bertuccio has compassed his own child's 
abduction and dishonor, — perhaps death. I have 
never seen acting more intense than in his desperate 
attempts to wear the jester's mask, in the hope that 


it may secure him access to the pavilion in which his 
daughter is shut up at the mercy of the ruthless Duke, 
and in danger besides of the poison of the jealous 
Duchess. If ever actor satisfied author, Phelps satis- 
fied me in Bertuccio. I have always thought it his 
most powerful impersonation, though from the great 
strain it put upon him it soon became too much for 
his strength, and when I last saw him in the part I 

was sensible of a great falling off When 

I look back on what I then saw of Phelps's man- 
agement in action, the enormous labor of his rehears- 
als, the conscientious thoroughness of his acting, 
and his abandonment to the passion of his part, his 
devotion every day and all day long to the labors of 
his art and the cares of his theatre, I feel I can 
understand better than those who knew his work 
only in its finished results, as it came before the 
public eye, what an enormous amount of Phelps's 
best life must have been put into the eighteen years 
of his management of Sadler's Wells. Knowing how 
much of mental as well as bodily strain those eighteen 
years' work must have cost him, I feel how wretchedly 
inadequate must have been his reward, either in money 
made, reputation won, or credit and honor given, had 
it not been for the other and incalculably higher re- 
wards derived from love of art, sense of duty fulfilled, 
and that consciousness of good work done which is 
all the sweeter the harder are the conditions of the 
doing, I have not time or space here to say what I 
should like to say of the good work done by Phelps 
at Sadler's Wells. To my mind he stands out as one 
of the most potent and profitable among the unrecog- 
nized and unrewarded civilizers and educators of his 


time. He brought a noble and admirable form of the 
art which, above all art, combines all the elements 
that appeal to the popular imagination within reach 
of a local public, which had, before his time, seen that 
art only in its most debased and coarsest forms ; to 
say nothing of that larger public which, during the 
eighteen years between 1844 and 1862, found in 
Sadler's Wells stronger and better served stage food 
for the eye and mind than they could find in any of 
the more aristocratic quarters of the town, or any of 
the more pretentious homes of the drama, during the 
same period. 

Tom Taylor, in the Theatre, December, 1878. 

Broad, rugged power was perhaps his most striking 
attribute. Versatile he was, too, but versatility is not 
a quality that produces the highest works of art. 
Timon of Athens, Sir Pertinax, Werner, Wolsey, King 
Lear, Bertuccio were amongst his finest impersona- 
tions. His exceptional physical strength enabled him 
to give full effect to the strongly passionate scenes, 
while the sympathetic tones of his deep voice told 
with touching pathos in such scenes as the one be- 
tween Bertuccio and his daughter. That the upper 
tones of his voice were sometimes nasal and throaty 
may be attributed to the fact that the newly-discovered 
science of voice production was not known in his day. 
Had it been so, be sure he would have studied it, for, 
as he told me, " For twenty years I never rested in 
my study of everything that had any bearing on my 

Lacking, tho' he did, the veneer of polished society 
which so often masks insinscerity and selfishness, he 


always exhibited the kindly feelings of a true gentle- 
man of nature to the members of his company. 

When I was blundering through the words of 
Orlando at the first rehearsal, he said to me in 'a 
kindly undertone, " I don't know what you intend 
doing with this part, but" — and then followed a 
modestly delivered and clear exposition of the mean- 
ing of the part. On my debut I saw him during my 
first scene standing at the wing in his shirt sleeves, 
his face half made up for Jacques, evidently taking 
stock of his new "juvenile leading man." Later in 
the evening he came up to me behind the scenes and 
grunted in my ear, " You'll do ! " No elaborate com- 
pliment could have been so gratifying. All through 
the season, and, indeed, whenever I met him in other 
theatres, it was always the same. If he was compelled 
to cast me a part which he knew I did not like, it was, 
" I am very sorry, but I am afraid I must ask you to 
play so and so. I can't help myself ; " begging as a 
favor, what he had the right to demand as a duty. 

Herman Vezin, in tht Dramatic Jieview,]\xnG 6, 1885. 

But I must say that I was never so conscious of this 
unfairness with him [Macready] as with his very in- 
adequate successor, Mr. Phelps, who always took his 
stand about two feet behind you, so that no face 
should be seen, and no voice be distinctly heard by 
the audience but his own. I remember finding this 
particularly unpleasant on the night I played Lady 
Macbeth, at the first performance given in honor of 
the Princess Royal's marriage. These performances 
took place at Her Majesty's Theatre, in the Hay- 
market, soon afterwards burned down. The stage 


was the largest in London, and fully one-third of it 
was occupied by the proscenium. I was there, as was 
my choice after my marriage, acting very rarely and 
at long intervals. From want of continuous practice, 
therefore, I was not so sure of the penetrating power 
of my voice, especially in a theatre of such unusual 
size. At one of the rehearsals kind Sir Julius 
Benedict warned me against speaking further back 
than the proscenium. He said no voice, however 
powerful, could be heard behind it, and that the 
singers invariably planted themselves in front. I 
mentioned this to Mr. Phelps, who was the Macbeth, 
and he seemed to agree to act upon the suggestion. 
But at night, from his first entry, he took a position 
far behind me, and kept it, whenever possible, through- 
out all my scenes with him. In my subsequent ex- 
perience with him, I found this was his invariable 
practice. Tricks of this sort are as foolish as they are 
ungenerous, and could never enter the minds of those 
who desire to be real artists. When actors have told 
me, as they often have, that I was always so fair to 
act with, I could only express my surprise, for how 
can you hope to represent characters truly upon the 
stage unless mind is acting upon mind, and face 
meeting face, so that the words appear to flow in 
answer to the thoughts you see depicted there. 

Helen Faucit (Lady Martin) : ' On Some of Shak- 
spere's Female Characters,'^. 293-4. 

At Sadler's Wells Theatre, one evening during 
Mr. Phelps's management, the house was very full and 
very noisy, and there was every appearance of the 
performance going off in dumb-show. Just before 


the time for the curtain to go up there were loud 
cries from the gallery of "Phelps, Phelps." After a 
little delay the green baize was drawn back, and Mr. 
Phelps, dressed for his part, came forward. Ad- 
vancing to the footlights, with folded arms and 
looking up to the gallery very firmly, he called out, 
" What is it you want ? " " Too full, too full," shouted 
a dozen voices. " Well," said Mr. Phelps, " why don't 
some of you go out ? " This seemed to take the- gods 
by surprise, for there was no response. The idea of 
going out never seemed to have entered their heads, 
in fact it put one in mind of the old story of belling 
the cat ; with who's to do it was the problem to be 
solved. Mr. Phelps retired ; the curtain went up, and 
no more was heard of " too full." 
Era Almanack, 1879,/. 116. 

The leading actors of the company were too well 
practised in elocution and action to require, or it may 
be to accept, their leader's tuition ; but of the rank 
and file it may be justly said that they owed every- 
thing to his tuition. For them no less than for their 
audiences the stage of Sadler's Wells was truly a 
School of Dramatic Art, of which Phelps was the 
accomplished master. At the rehearsals, invariably 
conducted by himself, his efforts were unceasing, not 
merely with the minor actors, but even with the mute 
supernumeraries. Tolerant of everything but ineffi- 
ciency, not once only, but twenty times in succession, 
would he put those showing incompetency through 
their gestures or their words. If the histrionic power 
were in them, Phelps would draw it out ; if it were 
not, he would drive it in. Surely no stage manager 


ever labored with more steadfast zeal to make the 
very best of his material. And he found his reward 
in the recognition by the public of the perfect artistic 
confederacy of his company, disciplined, like Milton's 
angels, "from shadowy types to truth." The unity of 
purpose thus attained being complete, individual 
merits, however high, became, as they should in any 
picture, whether on the stage or canvas, merged in the 
general effect. As a consequence, the symmetrical 
balance and sense of artistic proportion were so well 
kept, that on quitting the theatre the spectator, with- 
out exactly knowing wherefore, found himself invari- 
ably calling to mind the play as a whole, and not any 
particular scene or person in it. 

Richard Lee, in the Theatre, September, 1886. 

In ' Henry V.,' in the march past before Agincourt, 
the troops defiled behind a "set-piece" which rose 
breast high. Mme. Tussaud modelled eighty wax 
heads, — these were fitted on " dummy '' figures of 
wicker-work, clad in the costume and armor of the 
period. Every man of the gallant forty carried two 
of these figures, one on either side, attached to a sort 
of framework, which was lashed to his waist ; hence 
it seemed as if they were marching three abreast. As 
they tramped past, banners streaming, drums beatmg, 
trumpets braying, the stage seemed crowded with 
soldiers, and the illusion was so perfect that the 
audience never once discovered the artifice. 

John Coleman : ' Memoirs of Samuel Phelps,' 

When Mr. Toole went to America in 1874, and I 


had the Amphitheatre in Holborn and the Opera 
Comique in the Strand under my direction, in addi- 
tion to the Gaiety, I was enabled to offer Mr. Phelps 
a night engagement at the Gaiety. We produced the 
' Merry Wives of Windsor' at Christmas, 1874, with 
scenery by Mr. Grieve, and original music by Mr. 
Arthur Sullivan. Mr. Phelps played Falstaff, and 
associated with him in the cast were Mr. Hermann 
Vezin, Mr. Arthur Cecil, Mr. Righton, Mr. J. G. 
Taylor, Mr. Belford (one of his old Sadler's Wells 
company), Mr. Forbes Robertson, Miss Furtado, Miss 
Rose Leclercq, and Mrs. John Wood. Probably the 
most pleasant member of the company was Mr. 
Phelps. He had an amiable faculty of " making 
himself at home." When he first joined the regular 
Gaiety company — a company not generally associated 
with the so-called "legitimate drama" — he behaved 
as if he had been amongst them all his life ; and 
with the company mentioned above — some of them 
specially engaged for the 'Merry Wives of Windsor' 
— he was soon on the very best of terms. Instead of 
sitting in state in his dressing-room, he passed much 
of his time in the greenroom, and entered into all the 
little amusements of the place in the most pleasant 
manner. Fines were instituted to punish those who 
were found tripping in the text of Shakspere, and 
once or twice Mr. Phelps was caught (on evidence 
probably not very trustworthy), but he paid his fines 
cheerfully. The money was ultimately spent in a 
bowl of punch. 

John Hollingshead, in the Theatre, December, 


1811 — 1868. 






'Tis Nature's witchery attracts the smile ; 

'Tis her soft sorrows that our tears beguile ; 
Nature to thee her fairest gifts imparts ; 
She bids thee fascinate, to win all hearts — 
The wife, the queen, the wayward child we see, 
And fair perfection, all abide in thee. 

John Quincy Adams. 



The son of his father, as Macready called Charles 
John Kean, was a native of Waterford, Ireland, the 
town that is said to have given birth to Dorothy 
Jordan. He was born, while his parents were mem- 
bers of the company there, on January i8, 1811, the 
elder Kean, playing Richard III. and Harlequin in 
the miserable provincial theatre, with domestic sur- 
roundings as wretched as the scenes of his nightly 
labors, endeavored during the day to support his wife 
and children by giving lessons in boxing and fencing 
to the neighboring gentry, and with very little hope 
then of professional distinction, or home comfort. 
The better times came, however ; London recognized, 
and what was more to the purpose, paid the actor ; and 
in 1824 we find Charles, after studying in excellent pre- 
paratory schools, an Oppidan at Eton. Here he re- 
mained three years, devoting much of his time to 
athletics, and having among his associates such men 
as Mr. Gladstone, Spencer Walpole, and others equally 
well known to the world. During this period the 
boy's future was not determined, but his was to be 
an aristocratic trade, as was befitting the school- 
fellow of a Duke of Newcastle, a Marquis of Water- 
ford, and lords galore. His father wanted to see 
him in the Navy, his mother in the Church, while his 


own predilection was for a soldier's uniform, and the 
commission of the First Gentleman in Europe to carry 
a sword. But before he was ready to face the world 
his father had squandered his fortune, thrown his wife 
and his son aside, and Charles to protect a mother 
broken in health and in spirit, and poor in purse, re- 
solved to follow his father's profession, against that 
father's express command. He made his first appear- 
ance at Drury Lane, on the first day of October, 1827, 
as Young NoT^al; and in view of his subsequent as- 
sociation with the American stage it was a strange 
coincidence that his first manager should have been 
Stephen Price, the American lessee of the Park 
Theatre, New York, and that in the cast of the play 
should have been found the name of J. W. Wallack 
(as Glenalvori), both so intimately connected with the 
history of the drama in the United States. The critics 
were cruelly severe upon the new actor, recognizing 
nothing that was good or even promising in his per- 
formances ; and they almost broke the heart of the 
mother, and the spirit of the son by their forebodings 
of his certain failure in the profession. Charles Kean, 
however, felt that he was a mortal who had that within 
him which would command success, and deserve it too, 
and during that season he came again and again to 
the charge, playing Selim in ' Barbarrosa ; ' Frederick 
in ' Lovers' Vows ; ' and Lothair in " Monk " Lewis's 
' Adelgitha,' with Mrs. Duff, the subsequent American 
favorite, in the titular part. 

He was kindly received by Dublin audiences, when 
he made his first bow before them, as Young Norval, 
April 20, 1828. He subsequently went to Scotland, 
where he became reconciled with his father, and for the 


first time the Elder and the Younger Kean were seen 
together on the stage at Glasgow, Oct. i, 1828, the 
first anniversary of the son's debut in London. The 
play was Payne's 'Brutus,' and the interest in the per- 
formance was very great. Mr. Cole, the biographer 
of Charles Kean, and his official herald, relates evi- 
dently on the authority of Charles himself, that when 
Brutus exclaims, in a burst of agony, " Embrace thy 
wretched father," and falls on the neck of Titus, the 
applause was so great that " the wretched father " had 
time to whisper in the son's ear, " Charley, we are 
doing the trick ! " The Keans were seen together 
occasionally in provincial towns and in the same pieces 
during the following year or two ; but Charles, em- 
boldened by practice and success, resolved to try 
again his fortune in the metropolis, and this time 
in a higher range of characters, playing Romeo at 
Drury Lane on Dec. 22, 1828. On Boxing-night in the 
play of ' Lovers' Vows ' for the first time he uttered 
Lover's Vows on the stage to Miss Ellen Tree. After 
playing with more or less success in London and the 
provinces, and even at Amsterdam and the Hague, 
Kean resolved, in the autumn of 1830, to try his for- 
tunes in the New World, where his father on two 
visits had established fame for the name, and where it 
was hoped the son would be cordially welcomed ; and 
on Sept. I, at the Park Theatre, New York, he made 
his bow to his American cousins as Richard III. 
His tour in the States continuing for nearly two years 
and a half, was gratifying to him in many ways, and 
he felt that it was no small triumph for a youth of 
twenty, to establish a reputation as Romeo, Sir Edward 
Mortimer, Sir Giles Overreach, Hamlet, and Richard 


III., with audiences that had known Booth, Cooper, 
Cooke, and the elder Kean himself. On his return 
to his own country his reception was neither enthusi- 
astic nor decidedly cold ; he was engaged at Covent 
Garden for thirty pounds a week, but by no means 
was he regarded as highly as by the theatre-goers of 
the other side of the ocean. The elder Kean was 
engaged by the same management, and on March 25, 
1833, for the first and only time they were seen 
together on the London boards, Edmund Kean at- 
tempting Othello, his son playing lago, and Miss Ellen 
Tree Desdemona. The elder Kean never appeared 
upon any stage again. 

For eight or nine years after his father's death 
Kean worked hard and conscientiously at his profes- 
sion, gaining in power and popularity in his own 
country, as well as in America. In 1838 he com- 
manded a salary of fifty pounds a night at the Hay- 
market; and in 1839 he made another successful visit 
to the United States. On Jan. 29, 1842, after playing 
in the ' Honeymoon ' at Dublin with Miss Ellen Tree, 
he was privately married to that lady, taking the most 
important and fortunate step in his life. They ap- 
peared on the bills as Mr. and Mrs. Kean for the first 
time at Glasgow on Feb. 27, and on April 4, in the 
same year, they were at the Haymarket, as double 
stars, shining jointly in ' As You Like It,' the ' Lady 
of Lyons,' the ' Gamester,' and Knowles's ' Rose of 

In 1845 Mr. Kean made his third, Mrs. Kean her 
second, visit to America, opening at the Park Theatre, 
New York, Sept. 2, as the ' Gamester.' During this 
engagement Mr. Kean was seen for the first time in 


the United States as Jacques, Benedick, Don Fetix, the 
Duke Aranza, and Alfred Evelyn. They were very 
successful throughout the Union, and returned to 
England in the spring of 1847. In 1848 he was 
selected by Her Majesty to conduct the Christmas 
theatricals at Windsor Castle ; a duty he performed 
for the next ten years. In 1850, Kean, for the 
first time, became a manager ; and at the Princess's 
Theatre, in Oxford Street, found himself in his 
proper element, and with the opportunity to re- 
vive the legitimate drama he had so long desired. 
Between the years 1852 and 1859 the tragedies and 
comedies of Shakspere were put upon the stage in 
as perfect and thorough a manner as art and wealth 
and learning and taste could devise. The 'Merry 
Wives of Windsor' (Nov. 22, 1852) was followed by 
'King John' (Feb. 9, 1853), 'Macbeth,' 'Richard III.,' 
'Henry VIII.,' 'Winter's Tale,' ' Midsummer Night's 
Dream (Oct. 15, 1856), 'Richard II.' (March 12,1857), 
the ' Tempest,' ' King Lear ' (April 1 7, 1 858), the ' Mer- 
chant of Venice' (June 12, 1858), 'Much Ado About 
Nothing' (Nov. 19, 1858), and 'Henry V.' (March 
28, 1859). Between these were seen, presented in a 
style of equal magnificence and correctness of detail 
and scenery, the ' Corsican Brothers,' ' Sardanap- 
alus,' ' Faust and Marguerite,' ' Louis XI.,' ' Pizarro,' 
and many more. During these seasons the Keans 
had surrounded themselves with a good company, 
particularly strong in young, clever and pretty women, 
including Kate and Ellen Terry, Agnes Robertson 
(Mrs. Dion Boucicault), Carlotta and Rose Leclerq, 
and Caroline Heath (Mrs. Wilson Barrett), many of 
whom they introduced to the stage and all of whom 
IV.— 7 


profitted by their instruction and example. Mr. Kean 
retired from management on July 20, 1859, and virtu- 
ally then closed his connection with the London stage. 
He had lived his life and realized his dream. He 
had elevated his craft and had reaped his reward in- 
the approbation of the intellectual and refined of his 

In July, 1863, the Keans started on their final 
tour, to extend around the globe. They went first 
to Australia, then from California to the Atlantic 
States, and back to England in 1866. His last 
appearance in America was made at the Broadway 
Theatre (corner of Broome Street), New York, April 
16, 1866, as Louis XI. and Mr. Oakley; his last ap- 
pearance on any stage was as Louis XI., May 29, 1867, 
at the Prince of Wales's Theatre in Liverpool. He 
died in London, Jan. 22, 1868. 

While many of the playgoers of the present, who 
remember Charles Kean at all, remember him only in 
his later years, as Lear, Louis XI. or Wolsey, the old 
man, broken and ready almost to lay his weary bones 
among us, he was ranked by certain of his contem- 
poraries as only one degree below the few, very few, 
men of absolute genius who have appeared upon the 
English speaking stage ; and by some of his enthusi- 
astic admirers he was even believed to equal the elder 
Kean himself and the giants who had gone before. 
As an actor laboring under the disadvantages of a 
small, insignificant person, a voice unmusical and 
harsh in sound, and sometimes entirely unmanage- 
able, he won for himself, if not the highest place in 
his profession, one, at least, that was honorable and 
lasting. Men who saw both of the Keans upon the 


Stage, and who acted with them, have accused Charles 
of being an imitator of his father, not only in action, 
but in the striking peculiarites of his articulation. 
His vocal mannerisms were marked and not always 
pleasant, and a bronchial trouble of long standing 
made him an easy prey to the caricaturists and the 
wits. His performance of Jacques was thus summed 
up and dismissed in a public journal by a clever 
paraphrase of lines in ' As You Like It ' itself : " How 
does this Charles?" "He cannot speak, my lord." 
"Take him away!!" And Punch, dwelling upon his 
inherent difficulties with his m's and his n's, acknowl- 
edged his antiquarian researches into the habits of 
Shakspere's Jew, and thanked him for having proved 
Shylock a vegetarian by his reading of the following 
lines • 

You take my house when you do take the prop 
That doth sustain my house ; you take my life 
When you do take the beans whereby I live. 

The son of his father, however, was certainly more 
than his father's son, and he owed very little to his 
sire either in a personal or a professional way. As a 
parent the elder Kean was not admirable ; and as an 
actor he was so great that the younger, suffering from 
a comparison which he did not invite and could not 
avoid, was always overweighted by his name and lineage. 
He would have been a remarkable man if he had been 
the son of a Nokes, or Stokes, or Jones, or Robinson ; 
and had not been handicapped by the title that will 
always cling to him — that of the Younger Kean. In 
moral worth Charles Kean, a blameless, upright, honor- 
able man, was infinitely his father's superior ; and as 
theatrical manager and restorer, and upholder of what 


was legitimate and deserving upon the stage, he merits 
unqualified praise. 

Ellen Tree, the daughter of a contemporary of 
Charles Lamb in the East India House, was born in 
London in 1805, and belonged to a family honorably 
conspicuous on the English stage in the early part of 
the present century. Her eldest sister, Mrs. Quin, was 
a celebrated dancer ; another sister, Maria Tree (Mrs. 
Bradshaw), was a great favorite as an actress and 
vocalist, creating among other parts, Clari, and singing 
for the first time in public Payne's 'Home, Sweet 
Home ; " while a third sister, Ann Tree (Mrs. Chap- 
man), in a more humble but not less reputable line, 
was popular in London and the provinces as a "sing- 
ing chambermaid " and soubrette for many years. Ellen 
Tree, according to Cole'c ' Life of Charles Kean,' 
made her d^but in Edinburgh when she was barely 
eighteen years of age, and on Sept. 23, i826> 
made her first London appearance at Drury Lane as 
Donna Fi7/a«/^ in the ' Wonder.' This was followed 
at the same house by Letitia Hardy, Albina Mandeville in 
the ' Will,' Rosalie Somers in 'Town and Country,' Char- 
lotte in the ' Hypocrite,' Miss Hardcastle, and Christina 
in the 'Youthful Queen.' In 1829 she went to Covent 
Garden where she assumed her first tragic role, Fran- 
coise de Foix in Fanny Kemble's ' Francis the First,' 
and later, for her own benefit, she played Romeo to 
Miss Kemble's Juliet. 

In 1832, when the ' Hunchback ' was first produced 
in Dublin, Miss Tree played Julia to the Master 
Walter of Knowles himself ; and so much to the 
author's satisfaction that he wrote for her the part of 


Mariana in the ' Wife,' presented at Covent Garden, 
April, 24, 1833, with Knowles as Julian St. Pierre, 
and Charles Kean as Leonardo. On the original rep- 
resentation of Talfourd's ' Ion,' Covent Garden, May, 
26, 1836, she played Clemanthe to Mr. Macready's Ion, 
but assumed the titular part at the Hayraajrket in 
August in the same year, making it one of her most 
popular characters. Mr. Macready did not admire 
her Ion, but when she carried it to America the next 
season, Sargeant Talfourd wrote thus of the lady who 
illustrated the hero and made the story of his suffer- 
ings familiar to transatlantic audiences : — " Who is 
there who does not feel proud of the just appreciation, 
by the great American people, of one who is not only the 
exquisite representative of a range of delightful char- 
acters, but of all that is most graceful and refined in 
English womanhood, or fail to cherish a wish for her 
fame and happiness, as if she were a particular friend 
or relation of his own." 

Ellen Tree made her American d^but as Paulina in 
the 'Ransom,' and as Rosalind, Dec. 12, 1836. Her 
tour lasted nearly three years ; she played in every 
important theatre in the country, and carried home 
with her ^12,000 in cash, and the affection and es- 
teem of the American people as was predicted by the 
author of ' Ion.' 

In 1842 Ellen Tree became Mrs. Charles Kean, and 
from that time until her retirement from the stage in 
1868, on the death or her husband, her professional 
life was part of his, and in these pages is so re- 
corded. She died in London, Aug. 21, 1880. As 
Mrs. Charles Kean she was honored and respected 
as woman and actress, and is to-day remembered ; 


but as Ellen Tree she will live in dramatic annals : 
the successor of Mrs. Siddons and Miss O'Neill, the 
contemporary of Miss Fanny Kemble and of Miss 
Helen Faucit, and the precursor of Miss Ellen Terry. 

Laurence Hutton. 

We must here retrace our steps a little, and recall 
a circumstance that happened previously to Kean's 
second expedition to America. — One night when the 
boy Charles had been exhibiting before his mother, and 
stirring up her maternal pride by the merits of his 
acting, Kean suddenly returned home. His brow was 
very moody. He had been playing Richard, and had 
come home in part of the Crookback's dress. The 
" trunks " were still on him, the wig, and part of the 
paint : the rest had been rubbed off with a rough towel. 
He rang the bell, called for brandy and water, aiid 
threw himself at full length on the sofa. To soothe the 
angry spirit, and to excite a little admiration, perhaps, 
for the boy, Mrs. Kean said : " Do you know that 
Charles can act ? and, really, very well." " Indeed! " was 
the tragedian's answer ; — the tone was a little sarcastic. 
"Yes," returned the mother, "he can: and you shall 
see him." And, accordingly, Charles began. His 
acting was, we are told, very clever ; but it did not 
provoke a word from his father. Ife continued to lie 
on the sofa : he looked at the boy, — listened, — and, 
when all was over, said : " There — that will do very 
well. Go along ! Good-night ! It is time to go to bed. 
No more — a — acting, Charles." 

When the boy had retired, Kean broke out : — " That 
boy will be an actor if he tries ; and if he should," 


added he with an emphasis, "Til cut his throat!" 
Mrs. Kean interfered — remonstrated — talked of other 
things — and tried different methods of allaying his 
agitation. The tragedian, however, continued drinking 
his brandy and water — glass after glass — stronger and 
stronger. He muttered — he swore — " The name of 
Kean shall die with me. It shall be buried in my 

Barry Cornwall : ' Life of Edmund Kean,'Ma^. 19. 

Unlike his father he is never careless ; he anxiously 
elaborates every scene to the utmost of his power, 
never, throwing a chance away, never failing except 
from lack of means. He is not only a respectable 
and respected member of his profession ; he has the 
real artist's love of his art, and pride in it, and he 
always does his best. Laughed at, ridiculed and 
hissed, and for many years terribly handled by critics, 
both in public and private, he has worked steadily, 
resolutely, improvingly till his brave perseverance has 
finally conquered an eminent position. He began by 
being a very bad actor ; he has ended by forcing even 
such of his critics as have least sympathy with him to 
admit that in certain parts he is without a rival on the 

stage I must confess that it has never been 

an intellectual treat to me to see Charles Kean play 
Shakspere's tragic heroes, but I doubt whether his 
great father could have surpassed him in certain melo- 
dramatic parts In the lighter scenes of the 

first two acts of the ' Corsican Brothers ' he wanted 
the graceful ease of Fechter ; but in the more serious 
scenes, and throughout the third act, he surpassed the 
Frenchman with all the weight and intensity of a 


tragic actor in situations for which the comedian is 
unsuited. The deadly quiet of a strong nature, nerved 
to a catastrophe — the sombre, fatal, pitiless expression 
— could not have been more forcibly given than by 
Charles Kean in this act ; and in the duel there was 
a stealthy intensity in every look and movement which 
gave a shuddering fascination to the scenes altogether 

missed by Fechter It is because there is no 

presence of poetry in his acting that we feel Charles 
Kean to be essentially a melodramatic actor. The 
unreality and unideality of a melodrama are alike 
suited to his means. If he attempt to portray real 
emotion, he leaves us cold ; if he attempt to indicate 
a subtle truth, it is done so clumsily and so completely 
from the outside conventional view that we are dis- 
tressed. He has no sympathy with what is heroic. 
He wants nicety of observation, and expression for 
what is real. 

George Henry Lewes : ' On Actors and the Art of 
Acting,' chap. 2. 

Charles Kean's Hamlet has many beauties, but he is 
physically disqualified to do justice to any character 
in tragedy. His conception is slow, and though gener- 
ally correct, his execution will not second it. Nature 
has given him a most unmelodious voice, the sound 
of which appears to flow rather through his nose than 
its appropriate organ ; a face altogether unsuited to 
the character he attempts, and we doubt if she ever 
intended him for an actor. 

The 'Actor,' chap. 6, p. 69. 

Highly as I admired much of Kean's work in the 


greatest Shaksperean characters, I liked him best in 
parts of a somewhat lower grade. In the former he 
leapt up at an ideal which was beyond his grasp and 
failed to clutch it by an inch or two. Still one saw 
and respected the noble effort and was grateful to 
him for not dragging Shakspere down to his own 
level. But in such parts as Beverley, the Stranger, 
Adrastus, etc., as well as in his comedy characters, 
Don Felix, Benedick, Mr. Oakley, the effort which 
destroys effect was not perceptible. He entirely 
topped such parts and left a feeling of perfect satis- 
faction. So, too, in characters which he studied with 
the ripe experience of middle age, he discarded, to a 
great extent, the too persistent regard for external 
display, which marred to the last the great parts he 
had studied in his youth. His first entrance in 
Hamlet was marked with a firmness and determina- 
tion in bearing and walk, which would have suited a 
young warrior just entering the lists ; and he stood 
in a bold, upright attitude, his arms folded and his 
handsome eyes turned up (so long that the position 
must have been very painful) in utter disregard of 
his mother's words. 

Do not for ever, with thy veiled lids, 
Seelc for thy noble father in the dust. 

The whole action was picturesque, spirited, and 
graceful, but utterly unlike Hamlet. 

So in Shylock, the great scene in Act III. was acted 
with intense passion, but with a youthful vivacity 
and grace of movement which might have suited 
Richard III., but were out of character with an old 
money-lending Jew. It is astonishing that while his 


performances of his early parts gained in finish, he 
should have stuck to these blemishes; while in his 
later characters, such as Mr. Ford, King John, the 
Corsican Brothers, Louis XI., etc., he discarded them 
in favor of a much truer style of art. 

From 1850, the year I went on the stage, I had the 
privilege of a personal intimacy with Kean, which was 
equally pleasant and profitable. I was a frequent 
visitor at his house in Torrington Square, which was 
always open to me. " I am at home to nobody but 
Vezin," he used to say, and he appeared to take 
almost as great delight in chatting to me about 
actors and acting as I had in listening to him. 
Naturally he never tired of telling me about his 
father. But few actors are now living who can 
remember that great man, but in those days I met 
many who had acted with him, and who all spoke of 
him with the wildest enthusiasm. From his son, 
however, I received the most graphic and vivid 
description of Edmund Kean's wonderful genius. 
It was said 'of Charles Kean that he considered 
himself a greater actor than his father. No accusa- 
tion could be more absolutely false. " There are no 
Keans nowadays. I mean Edmund Keans," he said 
to me once ; and in comparing his own Othello to his 
father's, he told me that a gentleman called upon him 
once in Liverpool and said, " Mr. Kean, I am going 
to see your Othello to-night to compare it with your 
father's." " I never played Othello better than I did 
that night," Kean continued, " and the next day my 
critic called on me and said, ' Well, Mr. Kean, I was 
very much pleased with your performance last night, 
very much pleased indeed, but — you are not your 


father ! ' 'I know that,' said I, ' but to what differ- 
ence do you particularly refer?' 'Well, Mr. Kean, 
your pathos comes from here,' placing his hand upon 
his heart. 'Well,' said I, smiling, 'you could hardly 
pay me a greater compliment.' 'Ah,' said the visitor, 
'but your father's came from here,' and he slapped the 
sole of his foot with his hand. And he was right." 
Herman Vezin, in the Dramatic Review, May 21, 

Who can act Benedick? Charles Kean, a shrivelled 
old man of sixty, who looked no more like Benedick 
than a dried herring, gave us by sheer art the best 
Benedick of many a year, 

'Some of Our Actors : ' the Galaxy, February, 1868. 

During a visit to Exeter a ludicrous incident oc- 
curred. He had a favorite Newfoundland dog, 
named Lion, who accompanied him everywhere, 
and usually remained in his dressing-room while 
he was on the stage. One evening, during ' Rich- 
ard III.,' the door happened to be left open, 
and Lion heard the well-known voice in loud excite- 
ment. He trotted out and appeared at the wing just 
as Richard and Richmond were on the point of engag- 
ing in the last scene. Lion growled at his master's 
antagonist, exhibited his teeth, and rushed furiously 
forward, whereupon the terrified Richmond, deeming 
the odds too serious, fled from the field and was seen 
no more. Kean, being left without an antagonist, was 
obliged to fall and die unwounded. Lion bestrode 
his master in triumph, licking his face and barking 
vociferously, while the curtain fell amidst a roar of 


laughter and applause.* Richard was then unani- 
mously summoned before the curtain, presented him- 
self, made his bow, and retired. Loud calls continued 
for " the dog," but Lion, having finished his unstudied 
rSle, declined a second appearance. 

John William Cole : ' Life of Charles Kean,' vol.i., 
chap. 13. 

It is said that actors often forget themselves so as 
to lose entirely their own identity in the part they 
are assuming. I do not believe, however, that such 
abstraction is ever so complete as to prevent, at least, 
a mechanical observance of all the material parts of 
stage business. I remember, upon one occasion, when 
Mr. Charles Kean was acting Hamlet and I Horatio, 
he made a pause in the scene, and, although appar- 
ently deeply absorbed, said in a stage whisper, " Good 
Heavens, what noise is that ? " I replied, in an 
undertone, " It is only the ticking of the greenroom 
clock." "Oh, dear, what a nuisance," he whispered, 
and proceeded with his part, the audience not seeming 
to have noticed the interruption or heard the side 
speeches. After some time, in the same scene, he 
again paused, and said in an irritable undertone, 
" Can't they stop that clock ? " All this was done 
without any apparent interference with his feelings 
or expression. 

James E. Murdoch : the 'Stage,' chap, it, p. 350. 

But there [in Phelps's theatre] was no pedantry, no 
idle ostentatious outlay, no insisting on archaeological 
minutiae for their own sake, none of the feeling which 
made Charles Kean, at the Princess's, call out to the 


actor who was rehearsing Edmund in ' Lear,' when he 
gives Edgar his key, " Make more of the key, sir. 
Good God, you give it him as if it was a common 
room-door key ! Let the audience see it, sir; make 'em 
feel it, sir ; impress upon 'em that it is a key of the 
period ! " 
Tom Taylor, in the Theatre, December, 1878. 

Went to the Haymarket to see ' Ion ; ' it was tire- 
some and sleepy to a degree ; over at 10 o'clock. Miss 
Tree's performance of Ion is a pretty effort, and a 
very creditable woman's effort, but it is no more like a 
young man than a coat and waistcoat are. Vanden- 
hoff was frequently very false and very tiresome ; some 
things he did very well. The play was very drowsy, 
very unreal. 

W. C. Macready : 'Diary,' Augusts, 1836. 

On her arrival in America [1836] the bloom of 
youth had somewhat worn off, and her beauty, of 
which many reports had reached us, proved to be that 
of intellect and expression — certainly not of feature — 
while a peculiar stoop in her shoulders and a projection 
of the neck at first impressed a beholder disagreeably. 
But the impression vanished when you heard her 
speak, and ere you knew it you were fascinated by her 
feminine delicacy of manner, her soft and witching 
tones, and the perfect gracefulness and true elegance 
of her deportment, and you felt the conviction that 
you not only saw before you a consummate actress, 

but a pure, true, amiable and womanly woman 

With us her greatest success occurred in the comedies 
of Shakspere. In Viola, Rosalind, Beatrice and Portia 


she was inimitably great. Of Ion she has been the 
sole truly successful representative. Her Julia and 
Mariana we have already alluded to, and though in 
them she had been preceded here by Fanny Kemble, 
she stood the test of comparison with honor to herself. 
In Lady Macbeth and Constance she was almost too 
gentle and womanly. The characters were somewhat 
divested of their majestic grandeur — the very sublimity 
of ambition, crime, sorrow and despair. Her physical 
power was not sufficient to fully carry out the 
generally received idea of those wonderful Shaksperean 
creations. She was not sufficiently the shrew in 
Katherine, nor the termagant in Juliana; but the 
subtle workings of jealousy in Mrs. Oakley were most 
perfectly developed ; and if she lacked something of 
dash and brilliancy in the most sparkling scenes of 
Lady Townley and Lady Teazle, she more than made 
amends by her exquisite acting in those passages 
which proved that they were, after all, true women, 
and not mere breathless, soulless shells. The pathetic 
beauty of her Ophelia has not been surpassed, and her 
minor characters, Christine of Sweden, Kate O'Brien, 
Clarisse, Pauline, Maritana, and many others, were 
pronounced perfect. 

Joseph N. Ireland : ' Annals of the New York 
Stage,' vol. it., chap. ii,pp. 183-4. 

Some of the stars that appeared in 1837 were of 
considerable magnitude. My first experience was of 
one that shone with a mild and steady radiance which 
captivated all who came within its influence. Ellen 
Tree was a singularly charming actress. Her re- 
fined and ladylike bearing, her delicate conception of 


character, and her exquisitely truthful representation of 
the parts she assumed gave her an immediate success. 
I recall with perfect distinctness the mobile and ex- 
pressive face, the graceful figure and the perfection of 
acting that made her such a favorite. Her reputation 
as an actress on the London stage had preceded her. 

She had triumphed over adverse influences 

She won all hearts and was pronounced the most de- 
lightful of women upon the stage. But, alas ! Time 
will not stand still nor spare the fairest in his course. 
Eighteen years later, when she again visited this 
country, we, who remembered her as she had been, were 
suddenly disenchanted. Ellen Tree, then Mrs. Charles 
Kean, had lost her beauty and her charm. She was 
merely a portly, dull, second-rate actress. 

H. W. Domett, in the Boston Budget, March 14, 1886. 

" I have met," said a veteran poet in my hearing 
once, "a good many actors who could spell, some who 
could write, but very few who could read." A finished 
delivery is rare, indeed — that nice and accurate lodg- 
ment of emphasis, with the proper inflections, giving 
each word its due prominence and relation to every 
other. It illuminates the author and sets his meaning, 
as it were, on a hill ; it renders even indifferent pas- 
sages luminous, eloquent, and full of expression. Those 
who have heard Ellen Tree read " She never told her 

love," will know what I mean Twenty years 

ago Mrs. Kean was a Beatrice worthy of the part, an 
actress of true gayety ; and her merry rollicking laugh 
which used to set the house in a sympathetic roar, yet 
lingers delightfully in my ears. There is not an 
actress on our stage who can express the gayety of 


Beatrice, or point Beatrice's wit. Where, again, is 
there a Rosalind, or a Fw/a / Whoever has seen Ellen 
Tree as Rosalind will echo this question with regret. 
' Some of our Actors,' Galaxy, February, 1868. 

If we were to select the two characters in which 
Miss Tree appeared to greatest advantage, before she 
glided into the more matronly line which she now fills, 
we should name Rosalind and Viola. Perhaps the 
latter was the most faultless»performance on the mod- 
ern stage. It presented one of the sweetest creations 
of Shakspere's fancy, embodied as exactly as if the 
accomplished representative had been foreseen by the 
imagination of the author. In figure, feature, expres- 
sion and elegant propriety of costume, in the delicate 
humor of the lighter points and the exquisite pathos 
of the serious passages, the portrait was one in which 
the most exceptions caviller would have been taxed 
to discover a defective feature or suggest an improve- 

John William Cole : ' Life of Charles Kean,' vol. i., 
ehap. 18,/. 333. 

Miss Ellen Tree was an actress who did not impress 
her audiences violently in her favor at first, but grad- 
ually increased in their estimation, until finally having 
obtained a place in their hearts, there she remains in 
defiance of their better judgment. She must pardon 
me if I do not entertain so great an opinion of her as 

many of my contemporaries I have never 

seen Miss Ellen Tree perform any part in the numer- 
ous range of characters she sustains that left such an 
impression upon my mind, as to make me desirous of 


witnessing it a second time. She came to the United 
States heralded as the best actress on the English 
stage (yet strangely enough her great fame in England 
was acquired after, and not previous, to her first visit 
to America), which being tacitly admitted, no critic 
was ungallant enough to analyze her claim ; besides 
her charming affability in private life turned the heads 
of half the editors, who bit the other half, and thus she 
triumphantly acquired golden opinions everywhere. 

F. C. Wemyss : ' Twenty-six Years of the Life of an 
Actor,' vol. it., chap. 22. 

A London critic has said that Ellen Tree knew pre- 
eminently how to express an emotion by a glance and 
a thought by an accent. Every one who recollects 
her peculiar style will recognize the truth of this criti- 
cism. Mr. Charles Kean was an actor of points ; that 
is, he dashed through a speech in a careless, indifferent 
way until he came to a particular passage, which he 
would utter with startling effect. But Mrs. Kean, 
while making wonderful points, never slurred a line or 
neglected the slightest detail. The strength of her 
points lay in their unexpectedness, in the revelation 
of unthought-of meaning in the words, in the power 
which she possessed of concentrating a world of ex- 
pression in an inflection or a tone. We have mentioned 
the effect of her " I don't believe it ! " in Mrs. Beverley. 
There were scattered through her personation innumer- 
able similar instances. Her '^Arthur, trust me'' in 
the ' Wife's Secret,' was a magnificent burst, that for 
days vibrated m the ears of every sensitive person that 
heard it. No one could ever forget her " Oh, what 
shall I do with my doublet and hose?" when Rosalind 
IV.— 8 


learns that Orlando is in the wood ; and her " / am the 
man" when as Viola she receives the ring sent by 
Olivia, was always received by her audiences with a 
burst of delight. Her readings were always exquisite. 
Those who heard her " She never told her love " are 
apt to say that no other actress ever delivered those 
famous lines as she did. She possessed that very rare 
thing on the stage, true gayety. As Beatrice, her 
merriment was the gladdest thing in the world. In 
one scene her merry laugh is heard before she enters, 
and so joyous is it that the whole house is in roars of 
laughter in very sympathy, before ^he utters a word. 

It is a mistake, we think, to say, as we sometimes 
hear, that Ellen Tree possessed beauty. Her figure 
in her earlier days was very graceful ; but her features, 
although charming when animated, could never be 
called handsome. In later years she grew large, after 
the manner of Englishwomen, and when she last ap- 
peared in this country very much of the old charm 
was gone. It was impossible not to see the thorough 
artist, despite unfavorable conditions ; and in some 
parts, such as Mrs. Oakley in the ' Jealous Wife,' she 
retained all her old power. 

The stage has been endowed with many charming 
actresses since Mrs. Kean withdrew from it, and we 
have recently had occasion to lament the untimely 
demise of Adelaide Neilson, the only artist that has of 
late years attempted some of the parts in which Ellen 
Tree was famous. Miss Neilson was not equal to her 
great predecessor, although very pleasing, principally 
because she had not the intellectual resources of Mrs. 
Kean. Miss Neilson, in whatever she did, was always 
better than in what she said. Ellen Tree was always 


delightful in what she did, with a faculty of giving to 
her words a wealth of meaning that few persons 
supposed they possessed. Charlotte Cushman also 
had this faculty, and yet siflgle words and phrases do 
not stand out in our memory in any of her personations 
as they do in Ellen Tree's. 

It is a great satisfaction to be able to think of Ellen 
Tree as not only a great actress, but as a public 
woman whom the breath of scandal never touched. 
The cold and austere John Quincy Adams fell under 
the fascinations of her acting ; and in a poem that he 
addressed to her he applied a line from 'As You Like 
It,' that the world now may rightly crown her with — 
The fair, the chaste, the unexpressive she. 

Oliver B. Bunce, in Appkton's Journal, October, 

Ellen Tree has a great gift of this winning woman's 
softness. She was an elegant, graceful, delicate actress ; 
refined, well studied ; playful, lively, scarcastic in com- 
edy : her Rosalind, Mrs Oakley, Lady Teazle, Beatrice 
were all charming performances. In a certain line of 
tragedy, too, she displayed great concentration of 
passion, a subdued intensity, a suppressed fire, that 
seemed to burn her up, and gnaw her heart ; as in the 
Countess in' Love," Genevra in the ' Legend of Florence,' 
and others ; the woman spoke out in all of these. Her 
Mrs. Haller was the most naturally touching per- 
formance of that character which I ever witnessed. 

George Vandenhoff : ' Leaves from An Actor's 
Note Book,' chap. 3,/. 44. 

The only occasion on which I ever acted Juliet to a 


Romeo who looked the part, was once when Miss Ellen 
Tree sustained it Miss Ellen Tree looked beau- 
tiful and not unmanly in the part; she was broad 
shouldered as well as tall 'and her long limbs had the 
fine proportions of the huntress Diana ; altogether she 
made a very " pretty fellow " as the saying was for- 
merly, as all who saw her in her graceful performance 
of Talfourd's Ion will testify ; but assumption of that 
character, which in its ideal classical purity is almost 
without sex, was less open to objection than that of 
the fighting young Veronese noble of the fourteenth 
century. S.he fenced very well, however, and acquitted 
herself quite manfully in her duel with Tybalt ; the 
only hitch in the usual "business" of the part was 
between herself and me, and I do not believe that the 
public, for one night, were much aggrieved by the 
omission of the usual clap-trap performance of Romeo's 
picking Juliet up from her bier and rushing with her 
stiff and motionless in her death trance down to the 
footlights. This feat Miss Tree insisted upon attempt- 
ing with me ; and I as stoutly resisted all her entreaties 
to let her do so. I was a very slender looking girl, 
but very heavy for all that. Finding that all argu- 
ment and remonstrance were unavailing, and that 
Miss Tree, though by no means other than a good 
friend and fellow-worker of mine, was bent upon per- 
forming this gymnastic feat, I said at last, " If you 
attempt to lift me, or carry me down the stage, I will 
kick and scream 'til you set me down," which ended 
the controversy. I do not know whether she believed 
me, but she did not venture upon the experiment. 

Frances Ann Kemble : ' Recollections of a Girl- 
hood,' chap. Wjpp- 200-I. 


Miss Tree was performing in the old Chestnut Street 
Theatre. The play for the night was the ' Gamester,' 
Miss Tree playing the devoted wife, Mrs. Beverley — 
one of those performances which few of her admirers 
can ever forget.. Mr. Webb was playing Stukely, the 
villain, and in one of the most interesting scenes, in 
consequence of having taken too much sherry at 
dinner, he was somewhat oblivious of the language of 
the part. Miss Tree gave him, as it is termed, "the 
word " several times, which Webb took up with so 
much politeness and formality as to render the scene 
ridiculous considering the stern villainy of the char- 
acter, and his hateful relation to Mrs. Beverley. 
Finally the audience became aware of the true state 
of the case, and as usual in spite of their respect for 
the lady, began to titter while some hissed. Miss Tree 
was compelled at last to walk up the stage and take a 
seat with her back to Mr. Webb. By this time Webb 
had begun to feel how matters stood, and, a 
thoroughly polite man under all circumstances, he was 
now overwhelmingly punctilious, and with assumed 
sobriety of tone, though hesitating in articulation, and 
rather unsteady in his walk, he approached the foot- 
lights with a low bow and said : " Ladies and gentle- 
men, I am anxious to remove from your minds an 
evident misunderstanding concerning the true situation 
of affairs existmg on the stage. I see — indeed I feel — I 
may say very sensibly realize — the fact that you per- 
ceive that somebody here is intoxi — intoxica — that is, 
in plainer words drunk ! Now ladies and gentlemen, 
allow me to say that justice compels me to assure you, 
for fear your impressions should lead you to erroneous 
conclusions — to assure you I say that whoever is guilty 


of the unpardonable impropriety I have alluded to, on 
the honor of a gentleman believe me the offending 
party is not Miss Ellen Tree ! " 

James E. Murdoch : ' The Stage,' chap. 6, //. 

Were I to live to the age of Methusaleh, I shall 
never forget the end of that play. As Mrs. Beverley 
was being led off the stage, she gave a piercing shriek, 
and precipitated herself on the body of her husband ! 
Had a bombshell dropped into the pit, it could not 
have created greater excitement. Anson (so long at 
the Adelphi) was the prompter, and he dropped the 
curtain on the instant. When it fell, we gathered 
round Mrs. Kean, and raised her. She was in mad 
hysterics, and kept exclaiming — 

" Oh ! my Charley — my poor darling — you are not 
dead ; say you are not dead ! " 

" Deuce a bit, my darling ! " responded Kean. 

" But tell me so— tell me so, Charley ! " 

" I am telling you so, Nelly ; but, there, there — 
come and get dressed for Violante." 

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Kean, immedi- 
ately recovering herself. "It's wonderful I should 
have forgot about the 'Wonder.' Servant, ladies 
and gentlemen ! " 

And so, with a stately curtsey, she made her way to 
her dressing-room. Half-an-hour afterwards she was 
revelling in the humors of Violante, as if such a per- 
sonage as Mrs. Beverley had never existed. 

John Coleman, in the Dramatic Review, May 9, 




While viewing each remembered scene, before my 

gaze appears 
Each famed depictor of Sir Giles for almost fifty 

years ; 
The elder Kean and mighty Booth have held all 

hearts in thrall, 
But without overreaching truth, you overreach them 




No shattered life is here before us ; no career 
strewn with the wrecks of stormy passion and of 
ill-spent days ; no record of blighted hopes and of 
rash and careless errors ; but one of earnest and 
truthful devotion to the art he loved, of warm- 
hearted sympathy for his kind, and, above all, of 
the deepest and tenderest affection for his cher- 
ished family, among whom he spent his brightest 
moments, and in whose society he realized how 
near to Heaven can be the delights of a truly happy 

Edward Loomis Davenport was born in Boston in 
the year 1816. His father was the proprietor of an 
old-fashioned tavern on Ann, now known as South, 
Street, from whence, before the establishment of 
railroads, the stage-coaches used to start for New 
Hampshire and Maine. In his youth he was ap- 
prenticed to George Vinton, then the well-known 
baker and confectioner of Boston ; but, disliking the 
employment, his articles were cancelled by mutual con- 
sent, and he entered the wholesale dry-goods house 
of I. M. Beebe & Co., of Hanover Street. While 
in this position the stage seems to have exercised 
its fascination upon him, and he joined the Booth 
Dramatic Association of amateurs, the performances 



of the company being given in the attic over a baker's 
shop in Deacon Street. With increasing member- 
ship, and, perhaps, a more extended ambition, the 
association moved to a hall over a stable in Front 
Street, and from this place young Davenport, under 
the assumed name of Dey, made his most important 
start in life, by appearing upon the regular stage at 
Providence, R. I., in the character of Parson Willdo, 
in Massinger's play of 'A New Way to Pay Old 
Debts.' He was then in his twentieth year, and 
has been described by those who remember him at 
this early period as handsome and graceful in his 
person and remarkably quiet but earnest in his 
manner. The star of the occasion was the elder 
Booth, who treated the young novice in the most 
kindly manner, and, observing his extreme nervous- 
ness, placed his hand encouragingly upon his shoulder 
and told him to "have no fear." The horrors of 
stage fright appear to have vanished before the touch 
of the great actor, for during the brief engagement we 
find the neophyte appearing as Montana ('Othello'), 
Duke of Albany (' Lear '), and Marcellus (' Hamlet ). 
From Providence the company went to Newport, and 
it was here that a chance was afforded him which had 
a marked effect upon his future career He played 
William in ' Black-Eyed Susan,' and, though the 
performance must have been a very crude one as 
compared with his later admirable representation, he 
received much praise for his ambitious effort, and, 
according to one of his biographers, it was the means 
of attaching him to the stock company of the Tremont 
Theatre in his native city, among whose members he 
was enrolled in 1837. Here he went through the 


usual hard work of a young utility actor, and de- 
veloped that remarkable versatility which afterwards 
became one of his strongest characteristics. His 
opening part at the Tremont was one of only a few 
lines, that of the First Officer in Mrs. Gore's comedy 
of ' King O'Neal,' written for the lamented Tyrone 
Power, but soon afterwards we find him cast for 
M. DeschappeUes to the Claude Melnotte of Forrest, 
and the Damas of John Gilbert, the beautiful Mrs. 
Barrett being the Pauline. He also appeared in the 
walking gentleman and juvenile parts of the old 
comedies, and during his two seasons in the theatre 
he had the opportunity of playing with Booth, Ellen 
Tree, Forrest, Vandenhoff, and Murdoch. The Tre- 
mont, at the time of Davenport's connection with it, 
was under the able direction of Thomas Barry, who, 
to the close of his life, manifested the warmest in- 
terest in his prot^g^, and always spoke of him with the 
most respectful regard and affection. It may not be 
generally known that Mr. Davenport was possessed 
of an excellent tenor voice, and that he frequently 
sang between the pieces ; the song in which he was 
the most popular being the 'Bay of Biscay,' occa- 
sionally varied by that " mine of misery and pathos 
'Billy Barlow.'" In his musical studies he was 
greatly assisted by the well-known Tom Comer, 
and by Signor Ostinelli, who was leader of the 
orchestra of the theatre, and so great was his ability 
in this direction that during his subsequent starring 
tour with Mrs. Mowatt, when towns were visited in 
which there was no theatre, and the entertainment 
had to be given in halls and lecture rooms, his ballad 
singing was the great feature of the evening, his 


'Sally in Our Alley,' 'All in the Downs,' etc., always 
receiving rapturous encores. 

After two seasons in Boston, he became a member 
of the company of the Walnut Street Theatre, Phila- 
delphia, and it was here that he commenced to play 
the more prominent parts of the drama, and gave the 
promise of his future excellence. In the Dramatic 
Mirror oi 'iiow. 13, 1 841, occurs the following notice 
of his performance of Charles Courtly. " The admir- 
able acting of this gentleman in this and similar char- 
acters has raised him high in our estimation. He is 
easy and natural, has a perfect command of self, is 
never ambitious to shout and bellow, so as to call 
forth the plaudits of the pit, — he aims at nature, and 
seldom misses his mark. Throughout the comedy, 
the ease and grace of Mr. Davenport were admirably 
suited to the character he impersonated." He left 
Philadelphia in 1844, and made his first bow to a New 
York audience at the old Bowery Theatre, in the 
character of Titus to the Brutus of Thomas Hamblin. 
His engagement here was but a brief one, for on April 
19, 1845, the night of his first benefit, the theatre was 
destroyed by fire. Davenport had written for this 
occasion a short sketch called ' In Everybody's Mess,' 
which however was never performed, the MS. having 
been burned with the other property of the theatre. 
We next find him playing ^his first star engagement 
at the Boston Museum, his opening part being Duke 
Dorgan in ' Presumptive Evidence.' After this he 
performed at Niblo's, and it was during this engage- 
ment that the negotiations were entered upon between 
Mrs. Mowatt and himself which led to his accompany- 
ing that lady during a long tour through the United 


£. L DAVENPORT. 125 

States and England. It has been stated that Mr. 
Davenport's first appearance with Mrs. Mowatt was 
at the Park Theatre, New York, in the character of 
Romeo, in September, 1846. This is an error. Ac- 
cording to Mrs. Mowatt's ' Autobiography of an 
Actress,' she first appeared at the Park I'heatre as 
Pauline in the 'Lady of Lyons,' in June, 1845, and it 
was at the close of her first year upon the stage that 
the subject of our present menioir became associated 
with Mrs. Mowatt. They opened at Buffalo, thence 
making the tour of the States, and it was upon Sept, 
27, 1847, that Mr. Davenport made his bow at the 
Park, as Artnand in Mrs. Mowatt's play of that name, 
winning new laurels by his spirited impersonation. 
Two months later he accompanied Mrs. Mowatt to 
England, opening as Claude Melnotte in the Theatre 
Royal, Manchester, and at the Princess Theatre, Lon- 
don, as Sir Thomas Clifford, on Jan. 5, 1848. It was 
during this year that Gustavus Vaughan Brooke had 
dashed like a comet upon the London stage, and 
toward its close, upon his return from a short starring 
tour in the provinces, a combination was formed at 
the Olympic Theatre between Davenport, Mrs. Mowatt 
and himself." The initial performance was a tragedy 
by Henry Spicer, entitled the ' Lords of Ellingham ' 
m which Brooke appeared as Laurency, Davenport as 
Latimer, and Mrs. Mowatt as Edith. The journals 
of the day are full of praises of the acting of the play, 
and it ran for over thirty nights. During the season 
at the Olympic, the American artists received much 
polite attention from Mr. Macready, and it was prob- 
ably from the opportunities then afforded him of 
witnessing Mr. Davenport's impersonations, that the 

126 . E. L. DAVENPORT. 

great actor was induced to suggest that the younger 
artist should become his support, when three years 
later, he took his farewell of the stage. 

It is, however, somewhat singular that although Ma- 
cready ever manifested great regard for Davenport 
both as an actor and a gentleman, he does not once 
allude to him in his ' Diary and Reminiscences,' the 
omission being the more remarkable, as many other of 
his associates are dwelt upon at considerable length. 
A season of over one hundred and twenty nights at 
the Theatre Royal, Marylebone, then under the direc- 
tion of Mrs. Warner, followed that at the Olympic, and 
so great was its success, that a second engagement 
for a year was entered upon, which was again suc- 
ceeded by another at the New Olympic, (the old thea- 
tre having been burned to the ground) in the winter 
of 1849-50. The season was a long one, and a great 
number of new plays were produced, Mr. Davenport 
originally performing eight or ten leading parts. In 
January, 1851, began the series of Macready farewell 
performances, in all of which our hero appeared with 
honor to himself, his impersonations of Brutus, lago, 
Jcilius and Macduff receiving special encomiums not 
only from the press, but from the highest literary minds 
of England. He afterwards played a brief engagement 
at the Haymarket with James H. Hackett, followed 
by others at Drury Lane, the Princess's, St. James's 
and Sadler's Wells, in all of which he was ably sup- 
ported by his wife, formerly Miss Fanny Vining, and 
after seven years' residence in England, he sailed for 
America in August, 1854, appearing in September at 
the Broadway Theatre as Othello. For some years after 
this he was one of the most popular stars of his time, 


playing the most wonderfully contrasted parts, from 
Bill Sikes, to Hamlet, from Sir Lucius O' Trigger to 
Othello. He unfortunately for himself too frequently 
essayed management, and a large portion of his hard 
earnings was often sacrificed to meet the losses entailed 
upon him by unpropitious ventures in this direction. 
He managed successively the American Theatre (form- 
erly Burton's), the Howard Athenasum, the old Washing- 
ton Theatre, and the Chestnut Street Theatre, Phila- 
delphia As a manager he evinced taste of a high 
order, joined to a great amount of energy and liber- 
ality, and more than all, to a spirit of the deepest 
sympathy for those by whom he was surrounded, 
whose weaknesses he knew, whose talent and ambition 
he always strove to foster. The printed notice in each 
dressing room — " Boys, don't smoke, and if you love 
your manager, turn down the gas," is in every sense 
typical of the man, and his noble, generous nature lost 
no opportunity of asserting itself in behalf of those, 
who if they met him in an honest spirit, were ever the 
brothers and sisters of his heart. In 1862, he entered 
into the celebrated combination with James W. Wal- 
lack. Jr., during which the well-known drama of 'St. 
Marc ' was produced, and his subsequent career was a 
series of triumphs culminating in the grand production 
of 'Julius Caesar' at Booth's Theatre, in the winter of 
1876, his Brutus being then, as it had been previously 
in London, the theme of universal praise. He paid a 
visit to California in 1868, and played a success- 
ful engagement at the Metropolitan Theatre there, 
returning to New York to add another success to 
his already long list, in the character of Prospero 
at the Grand Opera House. His last appearance 


in New York was as Edgar in ' King Lear,' early 
in 1877. During the previous year he had added 
to his repertoire the part of Daniel Druce, and his 
power and honesty of purpose in this character will 
not easily be forgotten. It was in the rugged black- 
smith that his last words upon the stage were spoken. 
He had long been a great sufferer from rheumatism, 
and a serious cold contracted during the spring of the 
year just named, added, it is said to the effect upon 
his stomach produced by some nostrum given to him by 
a quack doctor, caused his death on Sept. i. He 
passed away at his summer residence at Canton, Pa , 
surrounded by nearly all the members of his beloved 
family, mourned and regretted by thousands of his 
countrymen. His old friend and associate, Dr. E. 
Chapin, performed the funeral services, and among the 
pall - bearers we find the names of William Cullen 
Bryant, Parke Godwin, Judge Daly and other distin- 
guished men 

Opinions will probably differ as to the rank which 
Mr. Davenport should hold among the giants of 
his art, but if he be not enrolled among the very 
greatest of them, he is undoubtedly entitled to a lofty 
niche in the temple of fame, and if the most marvel- 
ous versatility ever possessed by an actor, be a test of 
the highest power, then to him must all bow as to a 
master. It has been said by one of his intimate 
friends, that "he was an actor by instinct and in- 
tuition," and that his " love for his profession, and the 
impulsive generosity of his nature, which allowed him 
to play anything and everything, confessedly marred 
his fame." In all the relations of life, he was a 
gentleman, courteous in every sense to those with 


whom he came in contact, walking the earth as if he 
loved it, and ever ready to extend the right hand of 
fellowship to any who sought his aid, he quitted the 
sphere of his usefulness without an enemy, leaving a 
gap in the ranks of his profession, which it will be 
difficult to fill, and a reputation every way worthy 
and honorable, that of a polished and intellectual 
artist, and a generous, noble-minded, honest man. 

Henry Edwards. 

Mr. Davenport is a young actor of such merit as to 
have been selected by Mr. Macready to support him 
in his farewell performances at the Haymarket. He 
is, as our readers are aware, an American by birth, 
but he appears to have adopted the mother country 
for the field of his exertions. Nature has been liberal 
to him ; he has a handsome person and a graceful 
walk and action, with a voice of great variety, soft 
and musical, yet by no means deficient in power. 
His talent also is of a singularly versatile character; 
nothing comes amiss to him, — tragedy, comedy, melo- 
drama, youth or age, mirth or melancholy, love or 
hatred, all find in him an able and powerful exponent. 
He represented Othello to Macready's lago, and lago 
to his Othello, Cassius to his Brutus, Macduff to his 
Macbeth, Edgar to his Lear, etc. ; and his representa- 
tion has been such as to raise an expectation that he will 
eventually become one of the tragic princes of our stage. 

Tallis's Dramatic Magazine, March, 1851. 

If Mr Forrest and Mr. Hackett have been recog- 
nized as the tragedian and comedian of America, 
IV.— 9 


Mr. Davenport stands between them, partaking the 
powers of both if not to the extent of either. His is 
the tragi-comic genius, which holds the same place on 
the stage that the romantic play does in the drama, — 
that mixture of humor and passion which has always 
been a compound most agreeable to English feelings. 
That more plastic class of faculty which makes some 
sacrifice of depth in order to increase its range of 
surface, and which passes with equal truth from a 
Benedick to a Romeo, and a Jaffier to a Faulconbridge, 
has been illustrated in our time by the genius of 
Charles Kemble, and will soon have no exponent so 
accomplished as Mr. Davenport. Thus we see his 
great distinction, ;— an extraordinary versatility, in 
which he has no rival, with the sole exception of 
James Wallack, and for which his physical endow- 
ments are quite commensurate with his mental. 
Nature has been most liberal in her outfit of this 
gentleman, and his taste and artistic feeling show 
his sense of the obligation. He has an open, well- 
marked countenance, expressive eyes, and pliant 
brow, a voice that is clear and flexible, and a well- 
formed, manly person. We shall now notice his 
defects, which we do with the more willingness, 
since they are so easily removed. His acting is at 
present characterized more by vigor than refine- 
ment, — by attention to the leading features than the 
general treatment of a character ; and thus is wanting 
in repose and in those finer shades of feeling which 
constitute, not only so much of truth, but of effect. 
This is the case with all young actors, whose first aim 
is to succeed, and whose evidence of success must 
be the applause that they elicit. But, success being 


obtained, the point is how to make it permanent. 
Mr. Davenport is in a position to solve this question 
without fear. Let him rely more upon his art and 
his own indisputable resources in giving completeness 
to conception, rather than special force and coloring, 
and he will rise, we feel assured, to a height in his 
profession which will place him among the truest and 
most lasting of its ornaments. 

Bayle Bernard, in ' Tallis's Drawing-Room Table 
Book,'/. 12. 

A striking quality of Mr. Davenport's acting is its 
quietness. His best points are made in repose. He 
is not, however, tame, for it is the energy of mind that 
is expressed, though not of body, — where the passion 
is supposed to be of a highly wrought nature. Excel- 
lent in all he undertakes, we are inclined to consider 
his Othello the best performance in his whole series. 
His Moor is midway between that of Charles Young 
and that of Edmund Kean ; a little more highly 
colored in those passages where the former was, 
perhaps, too cold ; less impetuous in those where 
the latter was magnificently and fearfully passionate. 

'Actors As They Are,' New York, 1856. 

E. L. Davenport, of Boston, was strongly recom- 
mended to Mr. Mowatt by old and leading members 
of the profession. His high moral character, his un- 
assuming and gentleman-like manners, his wonderful 
versatility and indisputable talents, caused him to be 
selected as the person who was to travel with us 
during my second year on the stage. Upon this 
selection, every succeeding month and year gave us 


new cause for congratulation. The prominent posi- 
tion he has since won upon the English stage, and 
the honors he has received from fastidious English 
audiences, are the first reward of intrinsic but un- 
ostentatious merit. 

Anna Cora Mowatt ; ' Autobiography of an 
Actor,' chap. i^,pp. 253-4. 

Forrest assigned a high exalted artistic rank to the 
very varied dramatic impersonations of Mr, E. L. 
Davenport, every one of whose roles is marked by 
firm drawing, distinct light and shade, fine consistency 
and finish. His Sir Giles Overreach was hardly sur- 
passed by Kean or Booth, and has not been ap- 
proached by anybody else. His quick, alert, springy 
tread, full of fire and rapidity, the whole man in every 
step, fixed the attention and made every one feel that 
there was a terrific concentration of energy, an insane 
possession of the nerve centres, portending something 
frightful soon to come. 

Wm. R. Alger : ' Life of Forrest,' vol. it., chap. 16. 

This incident serves to illustrate some of the pecu- 
liarities of Mr. Davenport's character, and explains 
his lack of thorough popular appreciation. The 
motives that inspired him to play Edgar were doubt- 
less mixed, including a desire to see the play of ' King 
Lear ' strengthened in its cast and improved in its 
general effect by the development of a minor part, 
and, very likely, the need of the pecuniary compensa- 
tion therefor, for Mr. Davenport never could save 
money, and hence could spare little time to be idle. 
No fear of being overshadowed by others ever led him 


to refuse any part ; hence, as an able manager has 
since said, he was a far better man for his manager 
than for himself ; for it was this very willingness to 
play anything and everything that kept him below his 
true place in the judgment of the careless majority. 
With them it indicated a low estimate of himself, and 
they could not appreciate the generosity, nor entirely 
comprehend the nature, of the man who would on one 
evening play three acts of ' Hamlet,' one of ' Black- 
Eyed Susan,' and wind up as a stage-struck Yankee in 
a roaring farce, as Mr. W. J. Florence remembers to 
have seen him do on one occasion. 

Henry P. Goddard, in Lippincotfs Magazine, 
April, 1878. 

The opening scenes ['Black-Eyed Susan'] were not 
of thrilling interest ; Susan was duly admired, and the 
usual sympathy felt for her and for " the pangs, the 
dreadful pangs, that tear the sailor's wife, as, wakeful 
on her tear-wet pillow, she lists and trembles at the 
roaring sea." Doggrass made himself odious in the 
eyes of the gallery ; Gnatbrain threw the rolling-pin 
at him, and won a round of gallery applause ; Hatchet 
paid the rent ; Susan retired to her tear-wet pillow to 
list again, and so forth, when scene fourth is on, 'All 
in the Downs,' and enter Davenport as William ; and 
oh, how briny a William in every look, and action, 
and accent, and hitch of trousers, of the salt sea salty 
was William 

What a shivering of timbers was there, and what 
splicings of the main brace, what belayings and what 
running over at the scuppers, ye lubbers ! when he 
embraced his Susan! The first three scenes were but 


the prologue ; and the play itself did not begin until 
William appeared, or the interest ripen, until actual 
trouble czmtlo SusarC s natural protector, when the Cap- 
tain was upset, and the audience discovered who the 
victim of the protector's just indignation was, and the 
result to William of' such a blow to his superior officer. 

Davenport's acting in the final scene of the first act, 
when it was divested of the " clapping-on-of-the-main- 
top-bowline," and all of that ordinary nautical-drama 
business, was very powerful, and marked with an 
earnestness and artistic effect that the part of William^ 
or its kindred parts, rarely received 

There are occasions when the almost magnetic in- 
fluence of a thoroughly appreciative audience can so 
stimulate and exalt an actor, that the character he 
enacts becomes an inspiration in his hands, and for 
this William and its impersonator, this first time we 
saw Mr. Davenport in the part, we claim this in- 
spiration ; he carried the house with him ; and this 
fact, and the fact that he felt it, added fresh fuel to 
the fire of his genius. One of the standard jokes of 
the play, the only "funny business " in the trial scene, 
the reply of the boatswain, Mr. Quid, to the Admiral's 
inquiry as to William's moral character : " His moral 
character, your honor ? Why, he plays on the fiddle 
like an angel ! " provoked not a smile ; it seemed 
irreverent to laugh, the audience grasping at any 
straw in William's favor. The decision of the Court, 
" Guilty," and the reading of the sentence, " Death," 
were terrible blows to William's scores of friends 
before the footlights ; and William's subdued " Poor 
Susan" found echo in every sympathising heart in the 


The interest in the drama, however, did not reach 
its intensest point until the last scene of all — the 
execution. The farewells with his shipmates and 
friends, the last dying gifts and bequests, and his 
parting from Susan, were all very harrowing, and very 
real, and very choking ; but the culmination was 
William's standing under the yard-arm, his bare neck 
ready for the rope that was " to launch " him, the 
parson on the black platform, the twelve melancholy- 
looking captains, the grief-stricken Admiral Leffingwell, 
and the entrance of Captain Crosstree with his pardon, 
and his honorable and explanatory speech. Never 
was a Captain Crosstree so well received ! 

We do not recall many evenings where a single great 
actor has so controlled and moved his audience as did 
Mr. Davenport on that occasion ; and, as we look back 
upon it, and compare it with the playing of other 
actors, we can only account for it as being a true 
artist's handling of an impressive part. When William 
was finally released and congratulated, and when he 
took his Black-Eyed Susan in his arms, the audience 
made a personal matter of it, and cried over it as if it 
were their own personal and particular joy, and the 
Young Veteran, and all the rest of the boys in the pit, 
•went home to their little beds, resolved, with the 
young Columbus, " to go and be sailor boys, by jingo, 
or die." 

Laurence Hutton: 'Plays and Players,' cAap. i8. 

Mr. Davenport played in a gentlemanly, quiet 
style, with much less elegance than Wallack, and 
much more feeling. I regard his performance [of 
Hamlet} as decidedly the superior of the two. It 


showed deeper thought ; it was less stagey and tricky, 
more manly and natural ; but still it was tame, and at 
times uninteresting. It never once excited any real 
emotion in the audience ; it never made us feel. 
Adam Badeau : the ' Vagabond,' ' Edwin Forrest.' 

Mr. Davenport's laurels are all legitimate. Less 
than any other popular performer, who has a high 
position, is he liable to the charge of ad captandum 
tactics (catch the rabble). He does not seek to take 
his auditors by storm ; he is content with winning 
them. In his impersonations, calm judgment controls 
his impulses ; his action and declamation are never 
measured and gauged by the popular applause, but 
regulated by his own correct taste. He appears 
utterly unconscious of the presence of his audience. 
.... His conception of character, matured in his 
closet, is produced upon the stage as he has learned 
to understand it. He leaves nothing to chance- 
thought. Of course, like every man of genius, he 
is not insensible or unaided by the inspiration of the 
hour. In reviewing anyone of his delineations one is 
struck with its harmony. None of its local lights and 
shades will be found to have been exaggerated, but 
the various parts appear so duly balanced that the 
impression left upon the mind is precisely that pro- . 
duced by a well-drawn, well-grouped, and well-colored 

H. D. Stone : 'Theatrical Reminiscences,' chap. 13, 

pp. 1 2 1-2. 


1816— 1876. 


For thee of earnest spirit and great heart, 

In a fair time a fair and kindly death 
Rounds a life nobly consecrate to art, 

Nor lacking praiseful tribute of men's breath. 
For us, like music ended ; a dead voice 

That sounded sweet in our ears but yesternight, 
The passion and power wherein men's souls rejoice 

Are with the player buried out of sight. 
Within our ears an unreturning tone 

Of calm, majestic dignity still rings : 
A reverent memory remains alone. 

Sad sense of loss in sorrowful words that sings. 
Yet, even as Art to Death her daughter gives, 
Death bows to Art, for Art eternal lives. 




[Charlotte Cushman. — Born Boston, July 23, 
1816. First professional appearance, as a singer, in 
Boston, April, 1835. First appeared as an actress in 
the part of Lady Macbeth in New Orleans in the same 
year. First appeared in New York, and in the same 
part, Sept. 12, 1836. First visited England in 1844. 
First London appearance, as Bianca, Feb. 14, 1845. 
Returned to America, 1850. Again played in Eng- 
land in the summer of 1853. Played American 
engagements in 1857-8, 1 860-1. First public read- 
ing, October, 1870. Last appearance in New York, 
Nov. 7, 1874. Last appearance in Boston, May 15, 
1875. Last public appearance, as a reader, at Easton, 
Pa., June 2, 1875. ^^i^^ ^^ Boston, Feb. 18, 1876. 

B. M. 

L. H.] 

Charlotte Saunders Cushman was born in Boston, 
July 23, 1816. She was descended from two families 
of honorable reputation in the early history of New 
England. Her father, Elkanah Cushman, was seventh 
in descent from Robert Cushman, who is famous as 
the preacher of the first sermon ever delivered in New 
England. Her mother, whose maiden name was Mary 
Eliza Babbit, was also of good Puritan stock. 

The house in which Charlotte was born, on Richmond 



Street, was on the same spot now occupied by the 
Cushman School, erected in 1867. The fact that this 
school was named after her gave Miss Cushman much 
satisfaction. After speaking of the honor of it, and 
of the proof it afforded of the esteem in which she 
was held in Boston, where never before had a school 
been named after a woman, she said, " Nothing in all 
my life has so pleased me as this." 

Charlotte Cushman made her d^but on the stage as 
a Young Lady, in 1835, on the occasion of a concert, 
when she sang ' Take this Rose,' and other songs. 
At that time she intended to study for the operatic 
stage, but after a short experience as a singer, in New 
Orleans, she determined to become an actress rather 
than to strive to be zfrima donna. When but nine- 
teen years old she took the part of Lady Macbeth, and 
from this time devoted herself zealously to the study 
of the dramatic profession. At first she had no de- 
cided preference for any particular line of dramatic 
business, and in her earlier impersonations took a 
great variety of parts. She studied her comedy char- 
acters conscientiously, and rendered them with a 
certain charm, but it was as a tragic actress, and 
especially in Shaksperean tragedy that she won her 
highest fame, and will be longest remembered. In her 
representations of Queen Katherine and Lady Macbeth 
she took her place as the greatest American actress 
that has yet lived. Her impersonations of Meg Merri- 
lies, Nancy Sikes, and other melodramatic parts were 
also rich in striking effects. 

Miss Cushman was accorded a high position as 
an actress in England. Macready fully recognized, 
and generously acknowledged her power. He even 


declared that when playing Macbeth to her Lady Mac- 
beth he felt himself to be " less than of secondary im- 
portance — in truth, a mere thing of naught." 

Her career as an actress extended over forty years, 
and she made her last appearance, as she had made 
the first, in her native city, and in the midst of those, 
who, as she herself said, " from the beginning to the 
end of my career, from my first appearance on the 
stage to my last appearance, have been truly ' Brothers, 
friends and countrymen.' " 

Charlotte Cushman was an ardent patriot, and 
during the War of the Rebellion she proved this in 
many ways ; she contributed to the Sanitary Commis- 
sion $8,267, '^he result of her earnings when she acted 
especially for the benefit of this charity. 

In her private life she was affectionate, even tender, 
having a singular fondness for children ; she was also 
strong, and her friends turned to her for support and 
sympathy. She had a deep religious trust, and bore 
the sufferings of a long and painful illness with won- 
derful fortitude. In short, under all circumstances, 
as she expressed it, she "tried always to keep her prow 
turned towards good." 

Miss Cushman died, at the Parker House, in Boston, 
Feb. 18, 1876. Three days later her funeral took 
place at King's Chapel, and was conducted according 
to her own minute directions. She was buried at 
Mount Auburn in a spot which she had selected for 
her resting-place, because it commanded a view of 
Boston. Her grave is marked by a plain granite shaft, 
which bears no inscription save the name of " Char- 
lotte Cushman." 

Clara Erskine Clement. 


So enraptured was I with the idea of acting this 
part \Lady Macbeth, in New Orleans], and so fearful 
of anything preventing me, that I did not tell the 
manager I had no dresses, until it was too late for me 
to be prevented from acting it ; and the day before 
the performance, after rehearsal, I told him. He 
immediately sat down and wrote a note of introduc- 
tion for me to the tragedienne of the French Theatre, 
which then employed some of the best among French 
artists for its company. This note was to ask heir to 
help me to costumes for the r6le of Lady Macbeth. I 
was a tall, thin, lanky girl at that time, about five 
feet six inches in height. The French woman, 
Madame Closel, was a short, fat )erson of not more 
than four feet ten inches, waist full twice the size of 
mine, with a very large bust ; but her shape did not 
prevent her being a very great actress. The ludi- 
crousness of her clothes being made to fit me struck 
her at once. She roared with laughter ; but she was 
very good-natured, saw my distress, and set to work 
to see how she could help it. By dint of piecing out 
the skirt of one dress it was made to answer for an 
underskirt, and then another dress was taken in in 
every direction to do duty as an overdress, and so 
make up the costume. And thus I essayed for the 
first time the part of Lady Macbeth, fortunately to the 
satisfaction of the audience, the manager, and all the 
members of the company. 

Charlotte Cushman, in Miss Stebbins's ' Charlotte 
Cushman,' chap. i,pp. 22-3. 

The Miss Cushman who acted Lady Macbeth inter- 
ested me much. She has to learn her art, but she 


showed mind and sympathy with me, — a novelty so 
refreshing to me on the stage. 
Wm. C. Macready : ' Diary,' Boston, Oct. 23, 1843. 

Miss Cushman's style of acting, while it lacked 
imagination, possessed in a remarkable degree the 
elements of force. She grasped the intellectual body 
of the poet's conception without mastering its more 
subtle spirit ; she caught the facts of a character, but 
its conceits were beyond her reach. Her understand- 
ing was never at fault ; it was keen and penetrating, 
but that glow of feeling which springs from the 
centre of emotional elements was not a prominent 
constituent of her organization. She was intensely 
prosaic, definitely practical ; and hence her perfect 
identity with what may be termed the materialism of 
Lady Macbeth, and the still more fierce personality of 
that dramatic nondescript, Meg Merrilies, neither of 
which characters -was of 'imagination all compact,' 
but rather of imperious wilfulness. 

James E. Murdoch : ' The Stage,' chap. 12, p. 240. 

It was in consequence of Mrs. Chippendale's illness 
that she was called upon on the very day of the per- 
formance to assume the part. Study, dress, etc., had 
to be an inspiration of the moment. She had never 
especially noticed the part ; as it had been heretofore 
performed there was not probably much to attract 
her ; but as she stood at the side-scene, book in hand, 
awaiting her moment of entrance, her ear caught the 
dialogue going on upon the stage between two of the 
gypsies, in which one says to the other, alluding to 
her, "Meg, — why, she is no longer what she was ; she 


doats," etc., evidently giving the impression that she 
is no longer to be feared or respected, that she is no 
longer in her right mind. With the words a vivid 
flash of insight struck upon her brain. She saw and 
felt, by the powerful dramatic instinct with which she 
was endowed, the whole meaning and intention of the 
character ; and no doubt from that moment it became 
what it never ceased to be, a powerful, original, and 
consistent conception in her mind. She gave herself 
with her usual concentrated energy of purpose to this 
conception, and flashed at once upon the stage in the 
startling, weird and terrible manner which we all 
so well remember. On this occasion it so astonished 
and confounded Mr. Braham — little accustomed here- 
tofore to such manifestations — that he went to her after 
the play to express his surprise and his admiration. 

" I had not thought that I had done anything re- 
markable," she says, " and when the knock came at 
my dressing-room door, and I heard Braham 's voice, 
my first thought was. Now what have I done ? He is 
surely displeased with me about something, — for in 
those days I was only the utility actress, and had no 
prestige of position to carry me through. Imagine my 
gratification when Mr. Braham said : ' Miss Cushman, 
I have come to thank you for the most veritable sen- 
sation I have experienced for a long time. I give you 
my word, when I turned and saw you in that first 
scene I felt a cold chill run all over me. Where have 
you learned to do anything like that ? ' " 

Miss Stebbins's ' Charlotte Cushman,' chap. 7, pp. 

'Guy Mannering' is very nicely produced at the 


Haymarket. The scenery is new, the cast is tolerably 
good, and there is one piece of acting in it of an ex- 
cellent and very striking kind. Miss Cushman's 
melodramatic Meg Merrilies has quite as indisputably 
the attributes of genius about it ks any piece of poetry 
or tragedy could have. Such is her power over the 
intention and feeling of the part that the mere words 
of it become a secondary matter. It is the figure, the 
gait, the look, the gesture, the tone, by which she puts 
beauty and passion into language the most indifferent. 
When these mere artifices are continued through a 
series of scenes, a certain strain becomes apparent, 
and the effect is not wholly agreeable. Nevertheless, 
it is something to see what the unassisted resources of 
acting may achieve with the mere idea of a fine part, 
stripped of fine language, unclothed, as it were, in 
words. The human tenderness blending with that 
Eastern picturesqueness of gesture, the refined senti- 
ment breaking out from beneath that heavy feebleness 
and clumsiness of rude old age, are wonderfully 

Henry Morley : ' Journal of a London Playgoer,' 
Feb. 1 1, 1884. 

It is necessary that the actor should learn to think 
before he speaks. Let him remember first, that every 
sentence expresses a new thought, and therefore fre- 
quently demands a change of intonation ; secondly, 
that the thought precedes the word. Of course, there 
are passages in which thought and language are borne 
along by the stream of emotion and completely inter- 
mingled. But more often it will be found that the 
most natural, the most seemingly accidental, effects 
IV.— 10 


are obtained when the working of the mind is seen 
before the tongue gives it words. This lesson was 
enjoined on me when I was a very young man by that 
remarkable actress, Charlotte Cushman. I remember 
that when she playefl Meg Merrilies, I was cast for 
Henry Bertram, on the principle seemingly that an 
actor with no singing voice is admirably fitted for a 
singing part. It was my duty to give Meg Merrilies 
a piece of money, and I did it after the traditional 
fashion by handing her a large purse full of coin of 
the realm, in the shape of broken crockery, which was 
generally used in financial transactions on the stage, 
because when the virtuous maiden rejected with scorn 
the advances of the lordly libertine, and threw his per- 
nicious bribe upon the ground, the clatter of the broken 
crockery suggested fabulous wealth. But after the 
play. Miss Cushman, in the course of some kindly 
advice, said to me, " Instead of giving me that purse, 
don't .you think it would have been much more natural 
if you had taken a number of coins from your pocket 
and given me the smallest? That is the way one gives 
alms to a beggar, and it would have added greatly to 
the realism of the scene." I have never forgotten that 
lesson, for simple as it was, it contained many elements 
of dramatic truth. 

Henry Irving : Harvard Address, reported in the 
Critic, April 4, 1885. 

Her marvelous talent for what is technically called 
"making up," presents us with the picture that lives 
so indelibly in our memory ; her exquisite elocution 
enables her to accommodate her voice to the necessities 
of the unusual situations of the play, to break it with 


age, to thicken it with the choking sensation of death, 
to loosen it in the cry of agony, to repress it in the 
hollow murmur of despair ; while the genius that 
makes her feel so acutely the proprieties of the char- 
acter is only equalled by the consummate art that 
dictates and accomplishes such touches as her sliding, 
sidelong gait ; her frantic but significant gestures ; 
her attitudes, so ungainly, but so widely expressive, 
that they speak more forcibly than words. I can con- 
ceive of no more exact, no more effective picture, than 
that afforded by Miss Cushman's performance of Meg 

Adam Badeau : 'The Vagabond,' Charlotte Cush- 

Of her Nancy Sikes, Mr. Lawrence Barrett, who had 
appeared with her as Fagin, spoke to me, in substance, 
as follows : It was an astonishing thing, as well to those 
of the profession as to the public, — but the death 
scene was simply superlative in effect ; she dragged 
herself on to the stage in a wonderful manner, and, 
keeping her face away from her audience, produced 
a feeling of chilly horror by the management of her 
voice as she called for Bill, and begged of him to kiss 
her. Mr. Barrett said, "it sounded as if she spoke 
through blood, and the whole effect was far greater 
than that which any other actress has ever made, with 
the sight of the face and all the horrors which can be 
added." This part was eminently her own creation, 
conceived at a time when she had had small oppor- 
tunity for any good training. 

Clara Erskine Clement : ' Life of Charlotte Cush- 
man,' chap. 3,/. 25. 


Had I not found your note on coming home from 
the theatre, I must have written to you after the Queen 
Katherine, which I went to see quietly. You are 
wholly wrong to fancy that the part does not do you 
good, and you good to the part. What will you say when 
I tell you that it has given me a higher idea of your 
power than any I have yet seen you act ? I like it all, 
— conception, execution, everything. I like the plain- 
ness, the simplicity, and the utter absence of all strain 
or solemnity. 

You know I am difficult, and little given to prais- 
ing any one. Most of all was I delighted to hear how 
your level voice, when not forced, tells, and tells 
thoroughly. Now believe I don't say this to put you 
in good humor, or for any other reason than because 
it is honest and must come ! 

As for the critics, remember that from time imme- 
morial they have been always, at first, unjust to new 
and natural readings. The house shows how little 
harm or good they do, and of its humor there was no 
doubt ; though people who have been wiping their 
eyes on apricot-colored bonnet-strings, as I saw one 
young lady of nature doing, can't find time or coolness 
to applaud anything as they ought. In short, I was 
pleased, much pleased, and shall tell you yet more 
about the same when I see you ; and I am truly glad 
for your own sake that you have played the part. 

Henry F. Chorlev, quoted in Miss Stebbins's 
'Charlotte Cushman,' chap. ^,pp. 71-2. 

Romeo, Claude Melnotte, Cardinal Wolsey, and Ham- 
let, are among the most prominent of the male parts 
she has played. Her Cardinal Wolsey was a most 


remarkable performance. She is no doubt the only 
"woman who has had the courage and the ability to un- 
dertake it. Another marvelous assumption of hers 
was iiomeo. She was earnest, intense, and natural. 
The constitutional susceptibility of Rotneo's character 
was depicted by her in its boldest relief, — a particular 
phase of the nature of the young Montague, which no 
male actor, unless he were a mere youth, could effi- 
ciently and satisfactorily portray. 

In the ' Lady of Lyons ' she has played the Widow 
Melnotte, — she was the original IVidow Melnotte in 
New York, — Pauline and Claude. She acquired high 
repute for her Claude in England, and drew crowded 
houses at the Old Broadway, in 1850, when she first 
assumed it, the public seemingly greatly to relish the 
earnest and truthful manner in which she played the 
familiar character. 

Laurence Hutton : ' Plays and Players,' chap. 27. 

She is the finest American actress I have ever seen. 
I have played an engagement with her at the Lyceum, 
and I have altered pieces for her in which she has 
made great successes. I remember that I first saw 
her at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. She 
was directress of that house then, and quite young, 
with a fine spice of fun in her composition, the influ- 
ence of which I remember feeling on one occasion in 
particular. It was the custom there to ring down the 
curtain on Saturday night exactly as the clock struck 
the hour of eleven. I was ignorant of that, and just 
as I sat down before my audience and got half 
through a conversation over a table in my character 
of the ' Irish Lion,' the curtain went suddenly down. 


to my intense astonishment. " Is the house on fire ? " 
I asked ; and just then I saw the face of our direct- 
ress, laughing heartily in one of the wings of the 
stage. I was prepared for another occasion, and she 
never laughed at me again on the same score. 

John Brougham, reported in The Times, Boston, 
Oct. 25, 1874. 

The following anecdote illustrates Miss Cushman's 
decision and nerve. At the National Theatre, Boston, 
during the season of 1851-52, as she was playing 
Romeo to the Juliet of Miss Anderton, in the midst of 
one of the most romantic passages between the lovers, 
some person in the house sneezed in such a manner 
as to attract the attention of the whole audience, and 
every one new that the sneeze was artificial and deri- 
sive. Miss Cushman instantly stopped the dialogue, 
and led Miss Anderton off the stage, as a cavalier 
might lead a lady from the place where an insult had 
been offered her. She then returned to the footlights 
and said in a clear, firm voice, " Some man must put 
that person out, or I shall be obliged to do it myself." 
The fellow was taken away; the audience rose en 
masse and gave three cheers for Miss Cushman, who 
recalled her companion and proceeded with the play 
as if nothing had happened 

Clara Erskine Clement : ' Charlotte Cushman.' 
chap. (>,pp. 67-69. 

The younger generation of playgoers are only 
familiar with Miss Cushman's histrionic interpreta- 
tions of Meg Merrilies, Lady Macbeth, and Queen 
Katharine. The recollection of these renderings will 


suffice to illustrate the foregoing summary, without 
further elaboration of detail. Miss Cushman is now 
mainly confining herself to the reading-desk. There, 
can be no question that her peculiar intellectualism in 
art is shown even more in her readings than in her 
acting, notably so in the Shaksperean readings. In 
the dramas of Shakspere, the characters have so 
essential a play of relation, and are so subtile in their 
bearings on one another, that, unless they are all 
justly apprehended, the totality of the drama is 
maimed and marred. No genius on the part of Char- 
lotte Cushman could prevent this on the stage. In the 
reading-desk she reigns as the sole magician, with the 
perfect opportunity to express the finest attainments 
of her thinking and culture. She has but to wave her 
wand to unlock from the prison-house of Shakspere's 
pages all the immortal phantoms that brood within 
them. It is for her alone to invest them with a 
splendid and subtile life. 

Miss Cushman's devotion to art remains unchanged. 
For many years she has been among those 

Who live to be the show and gaze of the time. 

That she may remain so for many years to come, and 
continue to illustrate her great dramatic conceptions, 
as none but she can, is the hope of thousands of ad- 
mirers on both sides of the Atlantic. 

George T. Ferris, in Appleton's Journal, March 
21, 1874. 

Charlotte Cushman is dead. Before the shock of 
this news has passed away it cannot be improper to 
recall to her professional brethren the great loss we 


sustain by this sudden departure. After a long life of 
toil, laden with years and honors, she sleeps at last. 
That crown which she has worn for so many years un- 
disputed now lies upon a coffin beside which a whole 
nation will mourn. The world contained no greater 
spirit, no nobler woman. Her genius filled the world 
with admiration, and the profession which she adorned 
and ruled must long await her successor. This is not 
the place, nor is mine the pen, to write her history ; 
larger space and abler hands will see that duty per- 
formed. These lines are traced by one who loved her 
living, and weeps for her now dead. Her career is an 
incentive and an example to all the workers in our 
noble art. A woman of genius, industrious and relig- 
ious, her best education was obtained within the circle 
of her calling. Almost masculine in manner, there was 
yet a gentleness in her which only her intimates could 
know. The voice which crooned the lullaby of the 
Bertram's so touchingly came from a heart as gentle as 
infancy. To all who labor in the realms of art, and 
to my profession most especially, the loss of this day 
will be a severe one. Bigotry itself must stand abashed 
before the life of our dead Queen, whose every thought 
and act were given for years to an art which ignorance 
and envy have battled against in vain for centuries. 
To her, our Queen, we say : " Peace and farewell ! We 
shall not look upon her like again." 

Lawrence Barrett, in th& New York Herald, Feb. 
19, 1876. 

As a tragic actress, Charlotte Cushman held an 
unsurpassed position. Of her greatness in her own 
art, there is no question. Shakspere in our day has 


had no grander exponent than she. Generally, the 
actor who appears in Shakspere is lifted upon the 
mighty wings of his passion and borne aloft to 
heights which, to his own powers, were inaccessible. 
Why do the clouds fly so fast and the birds shoot 
through the air ? Their speed is not their own ; they 
are carried in the invisible arms of irresistible storms. 
Often Ariel wins the credit which is due to his 
master, Prospero, who has broken his staff, drowned 
his book, and lies sleeping on the banks of Avon. 
But this was not entirely true of Miss Cushman. She 
frequently rose to the level of the Shaksperean mind, 
was kindled with the Shaksperean fire, so that in her 
inspired moments she realized the character. It was 
not always thus, for the greatest of actors can only 
effect by supreme effort that which Shakspere did 
with apparently unconscious ease. But it is enough 
glory for an actress when she can cause her auditors 
to forget, even if only for a moment, the difference 
between the Lady Macbeth of the stage and the Lady 
Macbeth of the book ; that she, too, has something of 
that magic which deludes men to delight, and is able 
to re-create with no unworthy hand creations which 
are unrivaled in imagination. In relation to her own 
art, Charlotte Cushman stood easily upon its topmost 
height, as compared with other famous actresses of 
her time. But were this all that could be said of her, 
there would be room for misapprehension of her true 
position among the intellectual women of this century 
who have worked in other professions. She rendered 
an inestimable service to her sex by demonstrating the 
most brilliant methods, and, with conclusive force, the 
extent of its intellectual capacity. To judge that high 


service rightly, the relation of the drama to the other 
arts must be remembered. The disadvantages of the 
stage, as a lasting proof of individual genius, have 
been already pointed out, and, because of these, there 
is danger that Charlotte Cushman may be under- 

John D. Stockton, in the Century Magazine, June, 


1819 — 1870. 



A being young and fair, 

In purest white arrayed, 
With timid grace tripped down the stair, 

Half eager, half afraid ! 

As on the misty height 

Soft blushes young Aurora, 
She dawned upon our dazzled sight, 

Our graceful modest Cora ! 

Frances S. Osgood. 



Mrs. Mo watt's career upon the stage was very re- 
markable in many ways. She was an actress and a 
star, born not made. Taking a leading part in her 
profession without training or experience, she was 
never behind the scenes of a theatre until she was 
carried to witness a rehearsal of her ' Fashion ' on the 
day of its first production, at the Park Theatre, New 
York, March 24, 1845. She had but one rehearsal of 
the ' Lady of Lyons ' before she made her dibut, and 
she became an actress, and a triumphant one, three 
weeks after her determination to follow the profession 
was formed. Her reasons for taking this step were as 
remarkable as the result of it. Her success as a play- 
wright, she says, determined her to attempt and to 
achieve like success as a player. Every one familiar 
with the history of the theatre since it has had a 
history, knows how great is the difference between 
production and performance, how few the actors who 
have written clever plays, how few the authors who 
have become distinguished on the stage. The 
popularity of Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson Butler's 
battle pictures would hardly encourage her to lead 
armies into the field, nor would Von Biilow succeed 
were he to attempt the construction of a grand 
piano. Gunmakers are proverbially bad marksmen, 



and critics are the men who fail to make salable 

Mrs. Mowatt, however, had several things in her 
favor not always to be found in cases like hers. 
She was possessed of uncommon intelligence and 
grace, she was a gentle woman, refined and earnest, 
and she had a good cause, the support of a husband 
unfortunate in business, and too feeble in health to 
support himself. Her first appearance was at the Park 
Theatre, New York, June 13, 1845, less than three 
months after the production of her comedy ; and the 
occasion was the benefit of W. H. Crisp, who had given 
her the little instruction her limited time permitted her 
to receive and who played Claude Melnotte to her 
Pauline, Mrs. Vernon representing Madam Deschap- 
pelles. The house was crowded, the applause genuine 
and discriminating; and unprejudiced and experienced 
critics pronounced her a complete success. 

On July 13 of the same year (1845) she appeared at 
Niblo's Garden, New York, as, Juliana in the 'Honey- 
moon,' her second part, supported by Mr. Crisp, Wm. 
Chippendale, E. L. Davenport, Thomas Placide, John 
Sefton, and Mrs. Watts (afterwards Mrs. Sefton). 
During the first year she was upon the stage she 
acted more than two hundred nights, and in almost 
every important city in the United States, playing 
Lady Teazle, Mrs. Haller, Lucy Ashton, Katherine (the 
Shrew,) Julia, Juliet, and all the leading characters in 
the same line. The amount of labor, physical and 
mental, she performed during this period must have 
been enormous, and the intellectual strain alone was 
enough to have destroyed the strongest constitution. 
In the annals of the stage in all countries there is no 


single instance of a mere novice playing so many 
important parts so many times before so many dif- 
ferent audiences and winning so much merited praise 
as did Mrs. Mowatt during the first twelve months of 
her career as an actress. 

In .the autumn of 1847, Mrs. Mowatt sailed for Eng- 
land, where her success was as marked as in her own 
country, and much more, unquestionably, to her pro- 
fessional credit. She had to contend against a certain 
international prejudice, which has now entirely disap- 
peared on both sides of the Atlantic, she was com- 
pared, in their own familiar parts, with the leading 
English actresses of long experience, and she could not 
depend upon the social popularity and personal good- 
will which aided her so powerfully at home. She 
made her English d^but in Manchester shortly after 
her arrival, and her first appearance in London at the 
Princess's Theatre, Jan. 5, 1848, in the ' Hunchback,' 
Mr. E. L. Davenport, who had played with her on 
her American tour, giving her excellent support dur- 
ing her English engagement. She returned to New 
York in the summer of 1851 greatly improved in 
health, in personal appearance, and in her art; and 
her subsequent career was marked with uniform suc- 

She took her farewell of the stage at Niblo's Garden 
on June 3, 1854. As her 'Autobiography ' was pub- 
lished previously, her reason for retirement is not 
known, unless it was on account of her marriage to 
Mr. Wm. F. Ritchie, a few days later. She selected 
her maiden part, Pauline. A testimonial, signed by 
many prominent persons, and highly eulogistic, was 
presented to her ; and her last appearance created as 


great an excitement in the social and dramatic world 
as did her first. 

Anna Cora Ogden was born in 1819 in Bordeaux, 
France, during a short visit of her parents to that 
country. When she was fifteen years of age she mar- 
ried James Mowatt, a lawyer of New York. She made 
her first appearance in public as a reader in the 
Masonic Temple, Boston, in 1841. During the same 
year she gave readings in the hall of the old Stuy- 
vesant Institute, New York. In 1845, as has been 
shown, she went upon the stage. Mr. Mowatt died 
in London in the spring of 1851. She became Mrs. 
Ritchie on June 7, 1854. She lived in retirement in 
France, Italy, and England for some years, and she 
died at Henley-on-Thames in 1870. Mrs. Mowatt is 
described by those who remember her in the first 
flush of her youth as a fascinating actress and accom- 
plished woman : " in person, fragile and exquisitely 
delicate, with a face in whose calm depths the beauti- 
ful and fine alone were mirror'd " — "a voice ever 
soft, gentle, and low, a subdued earnestness of man- 
ner, a winning witchery of enunciation, and a grace 
and refinement in every action." 

She was an industrious contributor to the periodical 
press before and after her retirement, devoting much 
of her time to her pen. Her more elaborate works 
include 'Fashion : a Comedy' (1845); an epic poem 
in five acts called ' Pelayo, or the Cavern of Cova- 
donga ; ' ' Armand : a Drama,' first played at the 
Broadway Theatre, Sept. 27, 1847; the 'Autobiog- 
raphy of an Actress' (1854); the 'Fortune Hunter,' 
a novel of New York Society; ' Mimic Life, or Before 
and Behind the Curtain' (1856); and ' Gulzara, or 


the Persian Slave,' an early production which was 
remarkable simply for the fact that it was a play 
without a hero, the only male character in the 
dramatis personm being a boy of ten years. 

While Mrs. Mowatt's easy and sudden success has 
turned many a head, and inspired scores of her sex to 
attempt to follow in her footsteps, only to make as 
easy and sudden failure, bringing distress to them- 
selves and the patient public, the stage owes much to 
her for her example and influence as a woman, while 
her sisters in the profession owe much more to her for 
the kind words she has spoken of them in her ' Auto- 
biography ' and ' Mimic Life,' and the encouragement 
she has extended to the humble actresses who con- 
tribute in their small way so much to the public 
amusement, and who by the public are so often mis- 
represented and ignored. 

Laurence Hutton. 

Her first reading was given at the Masonic Temple 
on Thursday evening, Oct. 28, 1841. She carried 
with her the heart of every listener, for she exhibited 
the most beautiful moral spectacle of which human 
nature is capable, that of a wife turning her accom- 
plishments to account, to relieve the necessities of her 
husband. Her youth and beauty though sufficient in 
themselves to command attention were lost sight of 
when she began to speak, and one had leisure only to re- 
gard the exquisite tones of her voice as it gave utterance 
to her admirable conceptions of poetical genius. Her 
stay in this city was brief, but the judgment then pro- 
nounced upon her abilities was final, for having passed 
IV.— II 


through the ordeal of Boston criticism and met with 
approval, she fearlessly went forth to fascinate by the 
loveliness of her person, and to captivate by genuine- 
ness of her talent. 

W. W. Clapp : 'Boston Stage,' chap. 31. 

The day of my debut was fixed. It was in the month 
of June, 1854. I had three weeks only for preparation. 
Incessant study, training — discipline of a kind which 
the actor-student alone can appreciate — were indis- 
pensable to perfect success. I took fencing lessons to 
gain firmness of position and freedom of limb. I used 
dumb-bells, to overcome the constitutional weakness 
of arms and chest. I exercised my voice during four 
hours every day, to increase its power. I wore a 
voluminous train for as many hours daily, to learn the 
graceful management of queenly or classic robes. . . . 
The day before my debut it was necessary that I should 
rehearse with the company. I found this a severer 
ordeal than performing before the public. Once more 
I stood upon the dimly-lighted gloomy stage not now 
in the position of an author to < bserve, to criticise, to 
suggest, but to be observed, to be criticised, very 
possibly — nay, very probably — to be ridiculed if I be- 
trayed the slightest ignorance of what I attempted. 
.... The play ended, the curtain fell. It would be 
impossible to describe my sensations of relief as I 
watched that welcome screen of coarse green baize, 
slowly unrolling itself and dropping between the audi- 
ence and the stage. Then came the call before the 
curtain — the crossing of the stage in front of the foot- 
lights. Mr. C led me out. The whole house 

rose — even the ladies, a compliment seldom paid. I 



think it must have rained flowers ; for bouquets, 
wreaths of silver and wreaths of laurel fell in showers 
around us. Cheer followed cheer as they were 
gathered up and laid in my arms. The hats of gentle- 
men and handkerchiefs of ladies waved on every side. 
I courtesied my thanks, and the welcome green cur- 
tain once more shut out the brilliant assemblage. 
Then came the deeper, truer sense of thankfulness. 
The trial was over ; the debutante had stood the test ; 
she had not mistaken the career which had been 
clearly pointed out as the one for which she was 

Anna Cora Mowatt: 'Autobiography of an 
Actress,' chap. 12. 

When I made my d^but I was only prepared in one 
part ; yet before the close of the year, I had enacted 
all the most popular characters injuvenile comedy and 
tragedy. From this fact some estimate may be found 
of the amount of study requisite. Often after a pro- 
tracted rehearsal in the morning and an arduous per- 
formance at night, I returned home from the theatre, 
wearied out in mind and body ; yet I dared not rest. 
The character to be represented on the succeed- 
ing night still required several hours of reflection 
and application Sometimes I kept myself awake' 
by bathing my heavy eyes and throbbing temples 
with iced water, as I committed the words to mem- 
ory. Sometimes I could only battle with the angel 

Knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. 
by rapidly pacing the room, while I studied. Now 


and then I was fairly conquered and fell asleep over 
my books. 

Ibid., chap. 13. 

One evening the property man forgot the 

bottle containing Juliet's sleeping potion. The omis- 
sion was only discovered at the moment the vial was 
needed. Some bottle must be furnished to the Friar, 
or he cannot utter the solemn charge with which he 
confides the drug to the perplexed scion of the Cap- 
ulets. The property man, confused at his discovering 
his own neglect, and fearful of the fine to which it 
would subject him, caught up the first small bottle at 
hand, and gave it to the Friar. The vial was the 
prompter's, and contained ink. When Juliet snatched 
the fatal potion from the Friar's hand, he whispered 
something in an undertone. I caught the words, " so 
take care," but was too absorbed in my part to com- 
prehend the warning. Juliet returns home — meets 
her parents — retires to her own chamber — dismisses 
her nurse — and finally drinks the potion. At the 
words, — 

Romeo ! this do I drink to thee ! 

I placed the bottle to my lips, and unsuspiciously 
swallowed the inky draught. The dark stain upon 
my hands and lips might have been mistaken for the 
quick workings of the poison, for the audience re- 
mained ignorant of the mishap, which I only half 
comprehended. When the scene closed, the prompter 
rushed up to me exclaiming, "Good gracious! you 
have been drinking from my bottle of ink ! " I could 
not resist the temptation of quoting the remark of the 


dying wit under similar circumstances — " Let me 
swallow a piece of blotting paper." 
Ibid., chap. 13. 

Her American success might have been attributed to 
the sympathy deeply felt for a countrywoman so fair 
and unfortunate ; but when, in after years, a career of 
equal brilliancy was accorded her in the more fastidi- 
ous theatrical circles of our fatherland it could scarcely 
be doubted as the result of appreciated skill and merit. 

Joseph N. Ireland : ' Annals of the New York 
Stage,' vol. it., chap. 24. 

Of her career through the country her own narra- 
tive affords sufficient details. Her friends watched her 
progress with almost painful interest. They feared that 
injudicious flattery might prevent her from pursuing 
that course of close study and earnest application 
which can alone create the great actress. When she 
returned to New York, and produced her ' Armand,' I 
witnessed with great satisfaction its favorable recep- 
tion, and her own iniprovement as an actress. Her 
departure for England followed shortly after the pro- 
duction of ' Armand,' and on her return to New York 
I was immediately requested to renew our personal 

I found her to my astonishment developed into a 
magnificently formed woman, vigorous and healthy, 
and beaming with geniality and hopefulness ; and 
from that period until her departure for England, in 
i860, our personal intercourse wasonly interrupted by 
her occasional professional absences from New York. 
I have hundreds of her letters preserved, which she 


used to say I should find useful in delineating her life 
and character if I survived her. They all breathe the 
truest feelings that ever warmed a woman's breast. 

The professional career of Mrs. Mowatt, after her 
return to New York, was marked by uniform success ; 
the reputation and standing she had acquired in Eng- 
land established her claim here, and her closing pro- 
fessional labors were satisfactory, both artistically and 
professionally. This success, however, was inter- 
rupted by a painful and dangerous illness. During 
this retirement from her professional labors I fre- 
quently visited her at her father's residence at Ravens- 
wood, and witnessed with admiration the traits of 
character this almost fatal illness developed. She was 
cheerful and resigned to a degree that could only 
have been the result of a Christian spirit. I saw her 
a day or two before the operation was to be per- 
formed by her friend and physician. Dr. Valentine 
Mott, and found her actually joyous over the success- 
ful experiments he had been making with chloroform. 
The operation was most successfully performed, and 
she was restored to comparative health and to the 
society of her doting father and friends. These re- 
membrances confirm the statements she has made in 
her autobiography that Christian confidence was her 
support through the painful struggles and dangerous 
attacks she encountered during her residence in Eng- 
land, which culminated in the loss of her first husband, 
Mr. James Mowatt. 

J, W. S. H., in the New York Tribune, August 22, 

I had a little adventure of my own when Mrs. 


Mowatt was at Niblo's. It was the last night of her 
stage-life. The house was crowded to its utmost 
capacity with a fashionable audience, many of them 
personal friends of the lovely woman whose history 
all New Yorkers know ; who has gone back to grace 
the society that claimed her for one of its brightest 
ornaments ere the world at large knew of her traits or 
her charms. The throng was so great that I could 
find no place but the passageway in the dress-circle, 
and there I sat on the floor. A fine, gray-headed old 
man was on the sofa next to me, and opened the con- 
versation, remarked the immense concourse, and said 
it reminded him of the Theatre Fran9ais in the days 
of Talma. From the crowd to the actress was a 
ready transition, so we fell to discussing Mrs. Mowatt. 
I said she was charming and clever, and wondered if 
her graces were natural or acquired. My acquaint- 
ance insisted that they were natural ; in fact, he knew 
they were so. Then I wondered if this was really her 
last appearance, and surmised that she would soon 
return to the stage. "No," said my friend, "she will 
be married in a month." I knew of that before, and 
told him the day, but we did not agree upon the date, 
and the fine, old gray-headed gentleman thought he 
ought to know best since "he was her father." Of 
course I admitted the probability of his being cor- 
rectly informed, and apologized for the freedom of my 
criticisms ; he declared, however, that they had not 
been offensive, and even if they had proved unfavor- 
able that I was not to blame. But I could not re- 
member having been very sensorious, and we chatted 
away all the evening. 

Adam Badeau : the ' Vagabond.' 


" Home and rest " did not signify selfish ease. The 
energy that had led her — who, up to the hour of Mr. 
Mowatt's financial ruin, had been the petted darling 
of a luxurious home — to devote the best years of her 
life to the laborious calling for which she believed the 
bent of her talents best fitted her, that she might stay 
her husband's failing forces, kept her up now to the 
full measure of the duties prescribed by heart and 
conscience. Her sympathy with the working woman 
was unfailing. Her own habits were as methodical as 
when she was bound by the rigid necessities of study 
and rehearsal. To every hour was allotted its occupa- 
tion and each was performed well. Nothing that 
could advance another's welfare, were that other the 
lowest menial of her household, was ignoble in her 
sight. While as Secretary of the Mount Vernon Asso- 
ciation her voluminous correspondence was a severe 
tax upon time and strength, and her numerous social 
duties were never neglected, she could yet oversee 
every department of her neat establishment ; give les- 
sons in elocution to a young girl who wished to 
become a public reader ; write letters of friendship 
and business ; supply weekly articles upon various 
subjects, not only for the Enquirer but for other peri- 
odicals, and prepare ' Mimic Life,' the most thought- 
ful study and, in most respects, the best of her 
published volumes! 

At this time the proceeds of her literary work were 
devoted to private charities. I learned this acci- 
dentally, and not from herself. So far was she above 
the paltry ambition to play the Lady Bountiful that 
she shrank from the expressed gratitude of her benefi- 
ciaries. When she did a favor it was with grace and 


sweetness, which conveyed the impression that she was 
made richer, not impoverished by the privilege of 

I have written this sketch — so tame and imperfect 
in my sight when I compare it with the living, ever- 
fresh picture enshrined in my mind — impelled by 
conscience and affection to add a leaf to the record of 
a pure, beneficent life. 

While she was on the stage the boldest tongue durst 
not utter a syllable derogatory to her honor and her 
discretion. In the might of her innocence she neither 
saw nor felt the fires that had scorched and slain 
their thousands. In stooping to rescue others she 
had gathered no smirch — not so much as the smell of 
fire upon her white garments. Seeing this, men 
marveled with loud admiration and praised her as a 
demi goddess. But when, at the beckoning of Love, 
she stepped down from her pedestal, the world re- 
membered her no more Few cared to follow her 
into retirement to note what work would there be 
done by the brave spirit and great, loving heart. If her 
fame as an artist belongs to the history of histrionic 
art in America, the knowledge of her womanly 
virtues should make her name a household treasure. 

I would, at the risk of misconstruction of my 
motives, and, it may be, censure of the act itself, 
testify in some poor sort to the good she did in 
the sphere which the admirers of the actress deemed 
narrow and poor. She, in the beauty of her humility 
and unerring perception of the divinity of humanity, 
esteemed it exceeding broad. Having known and 
loved and learned of her as it was my pleasure and 
honor to know and listen and be taught, I cannot 


■withhold love's tribute to the breadth and holiness of 
the charity, the fidelity to truth and right, the zealous 
labor for others' weal, the Christian love, faith, and 
hope that made this woman's life and character as 
"round and perfect as a star." 

Marian Harland : ' Personal Recollections of a 
Christian Actress,' in Our Continent, March 15, 1882. 



'Tis not the dove-like softness of thine eyes 
My pensive gaze that draws, however fair ; 

A holier charm within their beauty lies, 

The unspotted soul, that's mirrored always there 

There every thought of thy young heart is seen. 
Radiant and pure, by truth and genius given, 

As, on the surface of the lake serene 

Reflected, gleams the perfect light of heaven. 

William Charles Macready. 



Helen Faucit occupies a peculiar position among 
the players of the present day. Though she is herself 
emphatically an actress of this generation, with all the 
culture and general breadth of mind which the great 
artists of to-day must possess to be in S3'mpathy with 
the development of the age, Helen Faucit's is yet a 
classical name as certainly as John Kemble's or Mrs. 
Siddons's. In her, students of acting have found a 
standard by which to try all her successors : a model 
with which to compare them. No higher praise can 
be given to a Rosalind, a Juliet, or a Lady Macbeth, 
than to say that it suggests Helen Faucit's. Why she 
occupies this unique position is intelligible to those 
who have studied her acting : still clearer to those 
who have studied her writings as well as herself. If 
her book on ' Some of Shakspere's Female Characters ' 
had been the work of a mere student of the stage, it 
would have been a delightful and valuable one : being 
as it is, a revelation of a great artist's method of work, 
as well as an exposition of her theories, it is of unusual 
interest. Its value for future time can only be gauged 
by considering how much wider would be our knowl- 
edge, had we such a book written by Betterton, or any 
of the great ones who have been. 

Helen Faucit was born on Oct. ii, 1820. Her 



father, John Saville Faucit, was an actor and dramatic 
writer of some repute ; her mother and her sister 
Harriet were talented and highly esteemed performers. 
Helen Faucit, the youngest of the family, was a deli- 
cate child. No doubt naturally reflective, circum- 
stances tended to encourage habits of thoughtful- 
ness ; for her health was so delicate that she was 
taken away from school and spent long months at the 
seaside, with books as her chief companions, — her 
favorites being Shakspere, the ' Arabian Nights,' the 
' Pilgrim's Progress,' ' Paradise Lost' and a translation 
of Dante's ' Inferno.' How these highly imaginative 
studies must have unconsciously colored and given a 
direction to her ideas is easily intelligible. That her 
childhood was not a bright one is undoubted — delicate 
health and solitariness must have developed a condition 
which, in a less strong mind, would have been danger- 
ously morbid ; and it is a fortunate circumstance that 
she so early threw herself, heart and soul, into her art, 
Her first appearance was made at Richmond as Juliet, 
in the summer of 1833, while she was yet scarcely the 
age of Shakspere's Juliet. It was brought about thus. 
One hot afternoon the sisters went in at the stage door 
of the theatre, seeking shelter from the sun ; and, 
finding the place untenanted, held a sort of half ludi- 
crous rehearsal of the Balcony Scene ; Helen speaking 
Juliet's lines. The manager, Mr. Willis Jones, was, 
unknown to the performers, a witness of their frolic, 
and he was so struck by the Juliet's fine voice, excel- 
lent appearance, and admirable recitation, that he 
prevailed upon her friends to allow her to appear on 
his stage, announced only as A Young Lady. She 
accordingly played several times, with great success ; 


but the strain was too great for one so young ; and it 
was thought advisable that she should return to her 
studies for some considerable time. 

On Jan. 5, 1836, she made her first appearance as 
an actress. Covent Garden Theatre was chosen as 
the scene of her d^but, and she selected Juliet as her 
character ; but as there was a difficulty in casting the 
play, she had to give up her favorite heroine, and 
make her first appearance as Julia in the ' Hunch- 
back,' a part which she did not like. However, in 
spite of terrible nervousness in the first act, she made 
so unmistakable a success that next morning an agree- 
ment was signed with Osbaldiston, the manager, by 
which she was engaged for a period of three years as 
leading actress of the theatre. Thus at a single step 
she reached the highest rank in her profession, gain- 
ing her position by no extraneous aid, by none of the 
artifices of puffing, by no underhand influence, 
simply taking the place which her powers entitled her 
to hold. What makes her success more remarkable is 
the fact that all her impersonations were the result of 
original study. She had not had the advantage — or 
disadvantage — of having seen previous interpreters of 
Shakspere's heroines, and she was wholly ignorant of 
the traditions of the stage. All her conceptions were hef 
own ; and in her own way she struggled to express 
what her keen insight showed her of the soul of the 
character. Thus there was a freshness in her acting 
which was as rare as it was charming. Mr. Percival 
Farren, elder brother of the celebrated William Far- 
ren, was her first master ; and of him and his kindly 
care she writes with warm affection and appreciation. 

In her first season she had the incalculable benefit 


of the advice and help of Charles Kemble ; and she 
gratefully acknowledges how fortunate it was that, to 
one of her shy and sensitive nature, so sympathetic 
an instructor was given. Her next adviser was Ma- 
cready, by whom she was engaged when he became 
lessee of Covent Garden in 1837, and with whom she 
had acted while he was in Osbaldiston's company at 
Covent Garden during 1836. As a guide he was the 
very opposite of Charles Kemble, being a severe dis- 
ciplinarian, very dogmatic, and very opinionated. Miss 
Faucit says that, " My dear, you are entirely wrong in 
this conception," was a constant phrase of his, and 
there is no doubt that he might have done much to 
retard the young actress's progress, and to make her 
lose interest in her profession, had not his de- 
pressing influence been counteracted by the kindness 
and appreciation of Mr. Elton, an excellent actor, 
who was her constant and admiring friend, and by 
the sympathetic encouragement of the best critics of 
the day and the enthusiasm of her audiences. Her 
training under Macready was strict and exacting. For 
a new play, or a revival, he had rehearsals daily for 
three, four or five weeks, and these usually lasted 
from ten in the morning till three or four in the after- 
noon. With this strict but valuable taskmaster she 
played at Covent Garden, the Haymarket and Drury 
Lane ; remaining with him until he resigned his man- 
agement of the last of these in 1843. During the 
seven years of her connection with the three chief 
London theatres she had played Juliet, Beatrice, Con- 
stance, Imogene, Cordelia, Desdemona, Miranda, Rosa- 
lind, Katherine, Hermione and other leading characters 
in the poetical drama, such as Mrs. Haller and Mrs. 


Beverley. She had been the original representative of 
Pauline, Julie de Mortemar, Clara Douglas (' Money '), 
the Duchess de la Valliere, Countess of Carlisle, in 
Browning's ' Strafford,' Mildred Tresham in the same 
author's 'Blot in the 'Scutcheon,' Margaret in Joanna 
Baillie's ' Separation,' Mabel in Westland Marston's 
' Patrician's Daughter,' Nina Sforza in Troughton's 
tragedy of that name, Marie de M^ranie in Marston's 
tragedy of ' Philip of France and Marie de Meranie,' 
and many others whose interest was transitory. Ma- 
cready's retirement from London management was a 
severe blow to Miss Faucit ; for, though the labor had 
been heavy, the pleasure and benefit she derived from 
acting with a manager of such high aims and great 
ability, had more than compensated her for it. In one 
respect, however, it was a benefit ; for her separation 
from Macready enabled her to shake off some man- 
nerisms which constant association with him had 
almost forced upon her. 

From this time she acted much in the provinces. 
Her friends considered that there she would receive 
the best practice ; so she declined numerous engage- 
ments offered her in London, and began, at Edin- 
burgh, a series of triumphantly successful engage- 
ments, — so successful that she chronicles, with just 
pride, that after her first night in Edinburgh, she 
never played, there or elsewhere, to an indifferent 
house. That she never, after this time, was perma- 
nently established in London, is a painful proof of the 
degradation of public taste ; but she appeared as a 
star at frequent intervals, finding no diminution of 
her personal success, and showing ever-increasing 
ripeness of judgment and powers. 

IV.— 12 


One of her greatest triumphs was won in Paris, 
whither she went in December, 1844, to act with 
Macready at the Salle Ventadour in a series of Eng- 
lish plays. She appeared on Dec. 16 as Desdemona; 
and during the month which the engagement lasted 
played also Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, Juliet, and Vir- 
ginia. Her acting was received by the most cele- 
brated French critics with praise so unqualified that 
its expression might seem hyperbolical were it not so 
obviously sincere. They were particularly surprised 
and delighted with an actress who played such .widely 
different characters as Juliet, Ophelia, and Lady 
Macbeth, sinking her own personality and giving a 
marked individuality to each. Mitchell, of Bond 
street, whose speculation this adventure was, was 
anxious that Miss Faucit should renew her engage- 
ment without Macready; but this was impossible, as 
the theatre could not be obtained for a longer period. 
It is not a little curious that these triumphs should 
have been won in a series of plays which were chosen 
by Macready, and which were, with the single exception 
of ' Romeo and Juliet ' (selected by Mr. Mitchell for 
his benefit), plays in which Miss Faucit had not been 
specially studied. Another triumph in her art was 
gained in Dublin, where she played Antigone in March, 
1845, and was presented with a congratulatory address 
by the Royal Irish Academy, accompanied by a golden 
fibula of great beauty and value, designed by Sir 
Frederic Burton, now director of the London National 

On August 25, 1851, she was married to Theodore 
Martin (now Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B.), the well- 
known poet, the coadjutor of Aytoun in the 'Bon 


Gaultier Ballads,' and the biographer of Aytoun, the 
Prince Consort, and Lord Lyndhurst. One of Helen 
Faucit's most charming characters was lolanthe, in her 
husband's version of Hertz's drama, 'King Rdnd's 
Daughter.' Not having lost her love for her art, she 
continued, after her marriage, to appear from time to 
time for brief periods. Lady Martin has taken no 
formal leave of the stage, though for some years past 
she has only appeared for benefits, or for charitable 
objects. Her last appearances have been at Stratford, 
in April, 1879, when she played Beatrice at the opening 
of the Shakspere Memorial Theatre, and at Manchester 
in October of the same year, when she generously 
played Rosalind for the benefit of the widow of Charles 

The quality which, above all others, made Helen 
Faucit famous, and to which all others were subor- 
dinate, was the vividness with which she realized her 
characters. To her, Juliet, Rosalind, Desdetnona were 
real personages : she was not satisfied with the study 
of their emotions, as they were stirred in the play, she 
sought, in every line of their speech, in every thought 
they gave utterance to, in every allusion to them by 
others, clues to enable her to understand their pre- 
vious history and the influences that had moulded 
their character. She was not an actress, playing a 
part, so much as a woman, realizing in the abstract the 
joys and sufferings of her sex. Juliet's horror of the 
tomb was a most real terror to Helen Faucit ; Desde- 
tnona' s death under a cloud of dishonor was an acute 
agony, as if it had been her own ; while, on the other 
hand, Rosalind's joyousness of successful love thrilled 
her with keenest transport. She worked from the soul 


outwards, as all great artists must ; and her strong 
realization of her characters, and her own belief in 
their reality, impressed her audience as no- merely 
technical ability could have done. To clear under- 
standing and vivid power of realization she added 
unwearied study. Although her early essays were 
received by her audiences, as well as by her critics, 
with great favor, she was herself conscious that it 
was only by unfaltering application that she could 
attain to higher ideals, to Juster conceptions. And 
with the expansion of the mental grasp must come 
cultivation of the art which gives expression to the 
idea. So she worked constantly, never satisfied with 
her attainments ; alwa3's struggling to feel her part 
more keenly, to express her emotions more vividly. 
No point was trifling or unimportant to her that aided 
to elucidate any phase of character, or to bring the 
audience into touch with the play. Thus, in the 
' Lady of Lyons ' she was never without flowers, 
because she felt that Pauline loved them passionately; 
and in ' Romeo and Juliet ' she attached so much im- 
portance to the effect of the Prologue on the audi- 
ence, that, when playing Juliet at Drury Lane, in 
1869, she used to speak it herself, with a silk domino 
thrown over her dress, no one else being inclined to 
undertake the task. 

This intense absorption in a character has of neces- 
sity its limitation. An actress of vulgar mind, of 
ignoble feelings, might be a very good Moll Flaggon; 
but she could not identify herself with the dainty 
Rosalind, or enter into the feelings of Juliet. And 
here the delicacy of Helen Faucit's nature was her 
truest aid. The distinguishing characteristic of her 


acting was womanliness, and whether she expressed 
the tragic love of Juliet, or the happy, light-hearted 
affection of Rosalind, she portrayed a passion deep 
and strong, yet full of reserve and modesty. With all 
that was purest and best in woman she was in closest 
sympathy, — a gift of inexpressible value to a tragic 
actress ; for without it, fire and passion, strength of 
mind, power of expression, are mere externals, which 
may force admiration but cannot inspire sympa- 
thy. Holding the highest views of the dignity and 
aims of her art, she has won, both in her public ca- 
reer, and her private life, universal respect and admi- 

Robert W. Lowe. 

Her form is graceful, her eyes have a beaming soft- 
ness, and her features though not of the Greek or 
Roman cast may be considered striking and agreea- 
ble. Her voice is confined in compass, but rich in 
tone, and will by prudent management, judicious 
modulation and some study become eminently de- 
lightful. Her great excellence at present [1844] is 

exhibited in characters of tenderness The 

effect of her acting in such parts is always pleasing 
and generally deeply pathetic. She has the tact, as it 
were, of identifying herself with the character, and 
breathes forth a pure, artless strain of feeling which 
rivets the mind of the spectator to the scene. 

Mrs. C. Baron Wilson : ' Our Actresses,' vol. ii., 
p. 20. 

Jan. 8, 1845. — Acted Macbeth with effort, not so 


well as Monday, but I think with power and discrimi- 
nation. The audience applauded Miss Faucit's sleep- 
ing scene much more than anything else in the whole 
Wm. C. Macready : ' Diary.' 

Jan. i6, 1845. — Miss Faucit acted in 'Hamlet' 
before King Louis Philippe and the French Court at 
the Tuileries, and was by the king presented with a 
costly bracelet. The same year, in March, after play- 
ing Antigone in Dublin, she was presented with the 
following address by members of the Royal Irish 
Academy and the Society of Ancient Art : 

" Madam, — We beg to give expression to the unal- 
loyed and sustained satisfaction which we have de- 
rived from your late performance at our national 

" We have each and all endeavored to promote the 
cultivation of classic literature and the study of 
ancient Art in this our city ; and we feel that your 
noble representation of Antigone has greatly advanced 
these important objects, by creating a love and admi- 
ration of the beauty and grandeur of Ancient Greece. 

" With the writings of the Grecian dramatists it is 
true we have been long familiar, but their power and 
their beauty have come down to us through books 
alone. ' Mute and motionless ' that Drama has here- 
tofore stood before us. You, madam, have given it 
voice, gesture, and life ; you have realized the genius, 
and embodied the inspiration of the authors and 
artists of Early Greece, and have thus encouraged 
and instructed the youth of Ireland in the study of 
their immortal books. 


"We offer the accompanying testimonial to the 
virtues and talents of one whose tastes, education, and 
surpassing powers have justly placed her at the 
summit of her profession. 

George Petrie, R.H.A., V.P.R.I.A., Chairman. 

John Anster, LL.D., ) secretaries " 
John Francis Waller, j 

Accompanying this testimonial was a splendid 
brooch of Irish gold, nearly four inches in diameter, 
designed by F. W. Burton, R.H.A. In the centre was 
a medallion exhibiting the figure of Antigone crouch- 
ing in grief over the funeral urn of Polynices. The 
success of Miss Faucit's personation of the ' Antigone ' 
led to the production for her in Dublin of the 
' Iphigenia in Aulis ' of Euripides. In 1845, on Nov. 
6, Miss Faucit sustained for the first time the part of 
Rosalind, in ' As You Likef It,' at the Haymarket 

Charles Eyre Pascoe : the ' Dramatic List,' 
Helen Faucit. 

Miss Faucit's acting is the perfection of pathos. 
She has the art of giving to simple words and sen- 
tences a world of meaning, — of appealing directly to 
the heart, — of opening the deepest depths of feeling. 
.... There are many other examples easily refer- 
rable, of a feeling infused — a depth of passion — of 
almost unutterable human love, constituting the 
power she possesses of rousing those sympathies 
which men need not be ashamed of, though their 
eyes dim with tears. 

Talliss Dramatic Magazine, December, 1850. 


In its tenderness and grace of womanhood; in the 
simple piety that looks to the gods when Imogen com- 
mits herself to rest, or is about to read a letter from 
her husband ; in the wife's absolute love and perfect 
innocence, void of false shame, slow to believe ill, 
strong to resist it. Miss Faucit's Imogen [in ' Cymbe- 
line,' at Drury Lane] is eloquent to our eyes, even 
when she fails now and then to satisfy our ears. She 
is an actress trained in the school of the Kembles, 
careful to make every gesture an embodiment of 
thought, — too careful sometimes, as when, after the 
cry, " What ! ho, Pisanio I" she remains with upraised 
arm throughout half the speech of lachimo that 
begins " Oh, happy Leonatus ! " There is a graver 
fault of excess in the first part of representation of 
womanly fear when as Fidele she calls at the mouth 
of the unoccupied cavern and runs from the sound 
herself has made. 

Henry Morley : 'Journal of a London Playgoer,' 
Nov. 5, 1864. 

On Wednesday, Miss" Faucit played Rosalind in 
'As You Like It.' .... In all the scenes with 
Orlando Miss Faucit's acting is delightful. If she 
has not the art to conceal art, the art she does nof 
conceal is true, — is founded on quick and refined 
perception of the poetry she is interpreting. She can 
realize line by line, with tone and gesture more of the 
spiritual grace and beauty of true poetry than any 
lady who now acts upon the English stage. 

Ibid., Dec. 17, 1865. 

I believe, myself, that Shakspere wrote the part of 


Rosalind, in a prophetic dream, for Helen Faucit. I 
will not call her Miss, and I will not call her Mrs. 
Martin. There never can have been such another. 
She is all Rosalind. The sweet, round voice, the 
statuesque and gracious attitudes, the perfect tender- 
ness of conception, and the sustained tone of the 
grand dame de par le monde, as Brantome has it, who 
never forgets her royalty for a moment in the lovely 
garnish of a boy, all these things go together to make 
a thing to be' remembered of Helen faucit's Rosalind. 
Herman Merivale, in the Theatre, November, 

Macready achieved renown in the Roman citizen 
Virginius, but damaged his reputation by attempting 
Coriolanus. Macbeth was his best part in Shakspere ; 
but he shone with conspicuous splendor as manager 
and actor in 'Cymbeline,' cast in unprecedented 
strength, marvelously mounted and acted to admira- 
tion. The Imogene of Helen Faucit, now Lady Theo- 
dore Martin, in delicacy of conception and power of 
execution soared high above criticism ; while Ma- 
cready's lachimo, whether as the rose-crowned boaster 
in Rome, the plainly -attired "noble stranger" in 
Britain where his eager gallantry is chilled by the 
presence of the chaste Imogen, or the repentant soldier 
after the battle in classic pose, action, and utterance, 
exhibited the actor's art to perfection. 

Walter Lacy, in the 'Green-Room,' Christmas. 

Helen Faucit's personation of character was a gift. 
Indignation, irony, scorn, tenderness, affection, and 


sorrow were depicted by her in the most natural man- 
ner, and she had the advantage of a grand presence, 
great flexibility, clearness, and mellowness of voice, 
somewhat of a low pitch, but very distinct, with a 
passionate expression ; any one could see that she felt 
the part she played, whatever it was 

I saw Helen Faucit in very many of her characters, 
but her Lady Constance was my beau-ideal of a tragic 
actress, and I thought she could not equal it until 
I saw her in the ' Lady of Lyons,' some time after- 

Throughout the last act, when Pauline is about to 
be sacrificed to Beauseant to save her father's fortune, 
and Melnotte, as Colonel Morler, under a feigned name, 
is talking to her about the absent Melnotte (as she sup- 
poses), Helen Faucit's acting was very fine ; and after 
two years and a half one has a right to suppose that 
she would prefer Melnotte to Beauseant, a man whom 
she hated and despised ; when the denouement came, 
and Morler turns out to be her own husband, her sur- 
prise and joy were so real and natural that one would 
imagine it to be like what any one would be at coming 
back from the dead. The acting was a great triumph, 
without exaggeration. The drawback to the play is 
that Melnotte is rather a bore and preaches too much ; 
as even at the end, when he has a great deal to repent 
of in reality for all the misery he has caused, he gives 
himself rather a good character than otherwise — like 
Zacchseus extolling himself from the sycamore-tree — 
and walks off with the honors of war. There can be 
no doubt that Helen Faucit made the success of the 
' Lady of Lyons ' by her creation of a very difficult 
character ; and the great compliment to such creation 


is that the ambition of every new star on the stage is 
to play Pauline to a London audience (who are very 
particular about the old traditions), and many have 
made the attempt with varied results. 
Cornhill Magazine, September, 1885. 

She was the original Pauline in Bulwer's ' Lady of 
Lyons ' : that one part alone was enough to make any 
actress ; and the position she thus acquired was con- 
firmed by several other original parts in new plays — 
Clara Douglas in ' Money,' Nina Sforza, etc. — in all 
of which she had the advantage of Mr. Macready's 
tuition, and the disadvantage of his manner being, by 
example and contagion, ingrafted on her style, which, 
in other respects, is refined, highly intelligent and 
marked with a winning feminine softness. I have 
played with her in later years at Manchester and 
Dublin ; and though she is perhaps somewhat exact- 
ing, yet I have always felt it a great pleasure to act 
with her. Her expression of love is the most beauti- 
fully confiding, trustful, self-abandoning itj its tone, 
that I have ever witnessed in any actress ; it is intensely 

George Vandenhoff : ' Leaves from an Actor's 
Note Book,' c}iap. 3, /. 42. 

Playgoers who remember Helen Faucit, especially 
in parts like Rosalind, will remember how perfectly 
that fine actress can represent the joyous playfulness 
of young animal spirits, without once ceasing to be 

George Henry Lewes : ' On Actors and the Art 
of Acting,' chap, if., p. 148. 


Beloved, whose life is with mine own entwined — 

In whom, while yet thou wert my dream, I viewed. 

Warm with the life of breathing womanhood. 

What Shakspere's visionary eye divined : 

Pure Imogen, high-hearted Rosalind, 

Kindling with sunshine all the dusk green wood ; 

Or changing with the poet's changing mood, ' 

Juliet, and Constance of the queenly mind ; 

I give this book to thee, whose daily life 

With that full pulse of noblest feeling glows, 

Which lent its spell to thy so potent art ; 

To thee whose every act, my own true wife, 

To grace serene and heavenward spirit shows 

That rooted Beatrice in Dante's heart. 

Theodore Martin. 


1 82 1 — 1864. 


The Yellow Dwarf young Robson rode so cleverly 

* * « 4c * 

And little Robson's left to say, 
" The boy in yellow wins the day." 

J. R. PLANCHfi. 



" The little man is undoubtedly the Great Fact at 
the Olympic." With these words Henry Morley, in 
his 'Journal of a London Playgoer,' concludes his 
notice of the opening performance of the Wigan man- 
agement at the Olympic Theatre on Oct. 17, 1853 : 
and "the Great Fact at the Olympic," Frederick 
Robson, continued to be until his death, eleven years 
afterwards. Previous to his ddbut at the Olympic, 
nearly seven months before that eventful night, his 
career had been that of the average country low 
comedian. From that evening he took and main- 
tained a position unique in the history of the London 

Thomas Robson Brownbill was bom at Margate m 
1821. Even in infancy he betrayed the histrionic in- 
stinct which was to blossom forth into genius, that in 
the opinion of many among his contemporaries, would 
have made him, had he chosen, the legitimate successor 
to the throne Kean had left vacant. Oddly enough, 
too, it was chiefly as an imitator of Kean that he 
made his first infantine successes. 

His friends, to crush a tendency of which they dis- 
approved, apprenticed him to the only other calling he 
thought endurable — that of a copper-plate engraver ; 
and In 1836, at the age of 15, he was articled to a Mr. 



Smellie, in the neighborhood of Covent Garden. But 
though " little Brownbill " stuck manfully to his burin 
by day, his nights were passed in the more congenial 
atmosphere of the amateur theatres, of which there 
were at that time several in the neighborhood of the 
Strand. It is on record that his first real trial appear- 
ance was at the amateur theatre in Catherine Street, 
Strand, as Simon Mealbag in the domestic drama of 
' Grace Huntley.' He had to pay for the privilege of 
performing and apparently met with small success. 
No date is assigned for this event, but it was probably 
after his term of apprenticeship had expired. This 
was shortened from seven to four years by the retire- 
ment of his master ; and for the space of a twelve- 
month he carried on business as an engraver in 
Brydges Street, Covent Garden, without, however, 
ceasing to play as an amateur. Finally, being now 
twenty years of age, he packed up his tools, which he 
preserved with affection for the rest of his life, and 
changing his name to Frederick Robson, betook him- 
self to the stage, for which he was born and which he 
so greatly adorned. 

His first engagement was as Second Utility in a 
room at Whitstable, in Kent. While there he acquired 
that command of the Kentish dialect which stood him 
in such stead in playing Daddy Hardacre, Simon Burr 
and similar parts. He is then heard of at Uxbridge and 
other small places, and finally at Glasgow, whence he 
went to London, appearing for a short time at the City 
of London Theatre. Early in 1844 he accepted an en- 
gagement at the Grecian Saloon Theatre, in the City 
Road, appearing in the old farce of the ' Illustrious 
Stranger.' "His success," says an eye-witness, "was 


immediate and complete." Here he remained for 
more than five years playing in many of those farces, 
the 'Wandering Minstrel,' 'Boots at the Swan,' the 
' Lottery Ticket,' and the like, which he afterwards 
made famous at the Olympic. 

After the plays were over a miscellaneous concert 
was given in one of the large saloons attached to the 
grounds, and here ' Villikins and his Dinah,' and the 
' Country Fair ' — which afterwards kept two farcesalive 
at the Olympic for nearly. a twelvemonth — were often 
heard between eleven o'clock and midnight. He left 
the Grecian in 1850, and went to the Queen's Theatre, 
Dublin, in which city and in Belfast he played with 
great success for two or three years, until through 
some unlucky accident a misunderstanding arose be- 
tween him and his audience. Though an apology was 
made, and he was allowed to appear again, he was 
received coldly and acted with evident nervousness. 
He left shortly afterwards, and returned to London. 

And now the tide of his affairs began to flow, to 
ebb only with his life. On March 28, 1853, being 
then thirty-two years of age, he made his debut at the 
theatre which was to be the scene of all his triumphs, 
— the Olympic, in Wych Street, then under the man- 
agement of Mr. William Farren, first and greatest of 
that name. The part was the Captain of Musketeers, 
in a piece called ' Salvatore.' Robson seems to have 
done all that was possible with it, and secured a line 
in the brief notice in the Tiines for his impersonation 
of "the amusing poltroon." 

Mr. G. A. Sala, in his sketch of Robson's career, 
asserts that a weary period elapsed between his ap- 
.pearance and his realization of financial success. But 
IV.— 13 


though he speaks with a certain authority as having 
known " the great little man " in the flesh, yet his 
statement seems to be contradicted by the fact that 
in the advertisement of the farce of 'Catching an 
Heiress,' which was produced on April 14, to " stiffen 
the bill," Robson is " starred " as Tom Twig; and this 
is a distinction not usually conferred on an actor 
whose name is not an attraction ; in addition to which 
undeniable fact I have it on very good authority that, 
during the run of ' Plot and Passion,' only seven 
months after his first appearance at the Olympic, he 
was in receipt of a salary of ^30 per week. 

On April 25 Frank Talfourd's burlesque of ' Macbeth ' 
was produced. In this he played the chief character, — 
as a red-headed, fire-eating, whiskey-drinking Scotch- 
man, — and his tragi-comic style burst upon the town 
with all the force of a new creation. Never before 
had been seen such a strange compound of passion, 
humor, pathos, and eccentricity. The Times, in the 
course of a long and highly eulogistic criticism of the 
impersonation, said : " It belongs to no recognized 
school of burlesque acting, but is an original creation : 
His acting is more than promising." Again, in ap- 
parent contradiction of Mr. Sala's statement, I note 
that extracts from this notice were printed daily in the 
advertisement of the theatre, — a rare thing in those 
unsophisticated and pre-Barnumite days, — and Rob- 
son's name was " starred " not only in this, but in 
every subsequent impersonation while Mr. Farren was 
in power. 

On May 23 the ' Wandering Minstrel ' was added to 
the bill, and Jem Baggs, with his inimitable ditty of 
'Villikins and his Dinah,' made his bow to an 


Olympic audience, and continued in frequent revivals 
one of Robson's most popular characters. This estab- 
lished his reputation as a great and original actor, 
and thenceforward all London went to see Robson. 
On July 4 he renewed his burlesque triumph by 
playing Shylock, in F. Talfourd's burlesque, the 
'Merchant of Venice Preserved.' Again the Times 
greets him with enthusiasm : " He adheres to the 
principle — eminently his own — of grounding his eccen- 
tricities on a really tragic basis ; " and the following 
paragraph was quoted in the advertisements during 
the run: "His impersonations belong to the histrionic 
phenomena of the day." On August 6 he played 
another of his Grecian successes, Jacob Earwig, in 
' Boots at the Swan,' and this and Shylock ran, with 
the exception of one night, until, on Sept. 23, the 
season and Mr. Farren's management of the Olympic 
closed together. The night excepted was the first 
benefit here of Frederick Robson, on Sept 15, the bill 
consisting of ' Exchange no Robbery,' ' Merchant of 
Venice Preserved,' and the ' Mistaken Story.' In 
accordance with the usual custom, it is probable that 
the beneficiary appeared in all these pieces, though 
with the exception of Shylock, I cannot ascertain 
what characters he sustained. 

On Oct. 17, 1853, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wigan 
undertook the management of the Olympic, and 
opened it with a little piice d'occasion, written for 
them by J. R. Planche, called the ' Camp at the 
Olympic,' in which Robson, whom they had wisely 
retained on the staff of the theatre, was cast with 
singular appropriateness for the Spirit of Burlesque; 
and Tom Taylor's drama, ' Plot and Passion,' wherein 


he created the part of Desmarets and made the triumph 
of the evening, being hailed as a new and original 
artist, who need not fear comparison with Bouff^. 

Throughout the season of 1853-4 he continued 
constantly in the bill, playing mostly in one-act 
farces, revived or written for the exhibition of his 
rare faculty of combining tragic passion and hints of 
the terrible with ludicrous burlesque. On Dec. 26, 
1854, he created the Yellow Dwarf in Planch^'s ex- 
travaganza of that name ; and this is probably the 
personation by which he will best be remembered. 
His appearance as a minute figure, yellow from head 
to foot, was that of a demon whom Retsch might have 
loved to portray; while his acting, which kept the 
audience in a tumult of delight, showed a mastery of 
the grotesque which bordered on the terrible. Mr. 
Planch^ in the preface to the 'Yellow Dwarf,' ('Ex- 
travaganzas,' vol. v.,) pays an eloquent tribute to the 
genius of the actor whose peculiar power for what 
might be called passionate burlesque he so keenly 
appreciated and so dexterously utilized : — 

" In Mr. Robson I thought I saw such a repre- 
sentative of the Dwarf as I might never see again, 
and I was not mistaken. So powerful was his person- 
ation of the cunning, the malignity, the passion and 
despair of the monster, that he elevated extravaganza 
into tragedy. His delivery of the lines, slightly 
parodied from the wail of Othello over the dead body 
of Desdemona, moved Thackeray, 'albeit unused to 
the melting mood,' almost to tears. 'This is not a 
burlesque,' he exclaimed, ' it is an idyl ! ' " More farces 
followed, always with the same laudatory comments 
from the press and enthusiastic endorsement from the 


public. On June 22, 1855, he made his first and, 
so far as I can ascertain, only appearance on the Lon- 
don stage in the legitimate drama, playing Moses in 
the ' School for Scandal,' a performance remarkable 
for the genius bestowed on the illustration of a sub- 
ordinate character, by which it was lifted at once out 
of the category of small parts. Another critic calls 
Robson a sort of Admirable Crichton of the stage; 
he can apparently do everything — a result owing, no 
doubt, to the length of time during which he was 
matriculating in the provinces and in suburban thea- 
tres attempting all manner of business. 

On Dec. 26, 1855, he played as usual the principal 
part — Prime Richcraft in Planche's extravaganza, the 
' Discreet Princess' : and on July 14, 1856, another of 
his great burlesque parts, Medea — in which Ristori 
was not caricatured so much as emulated — first saw 
the footlights. No praise seem.s to have been too 
lavish for the eye-witnesses of this "marvelous picture 
of what we may call tragedy off stilts." The original 
Medea, the great Ristori herself, went to see Robson and 
was delighted with and amazed at him. During this 
autumn he had the first attack of the illness destined 
to interfere so seriously with the sequence of triumphs 
which constituted his remarkable and only too brief 
career. On Oct. 27, Mr. Morley notes, " Mr. Robson, 
after a season of illness has reappeared, in his won- 
derful burlesque of Medea, wherein he seems to have 
reached the climax of success in personating jealousy 
by a wild mingling of the terrible with the grotesque." 

On Nov. 24, a new farce, 'Jones the Avenger,' 
afforded him one or two fine opportunities of burlesquing 
tragic passion; and he awakened laughter by combining 


ludicrous ideas, with the display of a passion as real 
as Macbeth' s. The Christmas extravaganza, 'Young 
and Handsome,' was again from the pen of Mr. 
Planchd. Robson's part was rather out of his usual 
line, though he did not fail to distinguish himself in it. 
The Athenxum praised his performance of the air-god 
Zephyr, " a new kind of character, where lightness and 
whim are substituted for the broad burlesque and 
tragic farce in which he is usually made conspicuous. 
We are pleased by the change and gratified by the 
evidence it affords of true versatility of the come- 

On March 28, 1857, was produced for the first time 
Daddy Hardacre, a skillful adaptation of the ' Fille de 
I'Avare,' and Robson was tremendous in the leading 
part, dexterously founded on the usurer in Balzac's 
' Eugenie Grandet.' 

His next assumption was the part of Masaniello in 
Robert Brough's burlesque of that name. " Here 
he had an opportunity — which some thought would 
prove a magnificent one to him, of showing the gro- 
tesque side of insanity ; but for some reason or other, 
the part seemed distasteful to him. It may have been 
repugnant to his eminently sensitive spirit to exhibit 
the ludicrous aspect of the most dreadful of human 
infirmities ; perhaps the piece was weak. At all 
events in the crazy Neapolitan fisherman he either 
failed or was unwilling to excel." Notwithstanding 
this verdict of Mr. Sala, ' Masaniello ' ran from the 
date of its production, July 2, until the closing of the 
Wigan management in August ; and when the theatre 
reopened on August 10, under the management of 
Messrs. Frederick Robson and Emden, ' Masaniello ' 


again figured in the bill together with the ' Light- 
house ' by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. This 
play had been first produced at Campden House by 
the Guild of Literature and Art, and Mr. Henry 
Morley draws a very interesting comparison between 
Robson's performance of Aaron Gurnock and Mr. 
Dickens's to the distinct disadvantage of the former, 
and concludes : " I believe the truth to be that Mr. 
Robson is most perfectly at home, and can be seen to 
the best advantage in those parts by which his reputa- 
tion has been made ; and that his success in parts of 
serious interest will be greatest in those which, like 
Daddy Hardacre, permit him to add to his strokes of 
passion some fantastic touches that provoke us un- 
expectedly to mirth Full of interest, full of 

fine touches of the artist's power, is Mr. Robson's per- 
sonation of the part, but it is not one of his triumphs." 
A revival of ' Boots at the Swan ' led Mr. Morley to 
contrast his Jacob Earwig with Mr. Keeley's : " Mr. 
Robson, although deaf, is humorously wide awake. He 
is the Boots who is brisk, and alive in all the humor of 
the street, who would be preternaturally knowing if he 
could but hear what people say. In word, look and 
action he is more the gamin than the simpleton." 

The Christmas piece calls for no comment; but on 
March 8, 1858, he made another distinct success as 
Griggs in J. Madison Morton's farce ' Ticklish Times.' 
In October a melodrama by Wilkie Collins was pro- 
duced, but the 'Red Vial' was condemned in spite of 
the fact that Robson and Mrs. Stirling raised the 
story to the utmost possible height by their acting. 

On Dec. 4, was produced John Oxenford's ' Por- 
ter's Knot,' in which Robson created his character of 


Sampson Burr with distinguished success. He felt 
his opportunity, and accordingly elaborated it with a 
minuteness and a finish that made it one of the finest 
and most complete of his assumptions. A distin- 
guished critic calls it, "a piece of acting not less 
perfect in its truth and its quaint mingling of comedy 
with pathos than his Daddy Hardacre. There is the 
same rustic dialect and manner, but there ends all 
likeness between the two characters, except the perfect 
way in which each is expressed. Sampson Bun 's 
trouble in his chimney corner, or his talk with his wife 
when she has brought his dinner to the pier, and they 
sit together on the truck while he is eating it, cannot 
be seen without an emotion expressed either by laugh- 
ter or by tears." On Dec. 26, the customary Christmas 
piece was produced, ' Mazeppa,' with Robson in the title 
part ; and early in the new year — 1859 — he attempted 
to play the ' Porter's Knot ' with it, but the strain was 
too great and resulted in another attack of illness. He 
continued throughout this season to play in farces, 
old and new, and after a brief revival of ' Medea ' in 
November, produced ' Alfred the Great ' as a Christmas 

On March 12, i860, he played Uncie Zachary, in 
which he entered into manifest rivalry with M. Bouffe, 
the original representative of the part — Vonde Baptiste 
— and more than satisfied critical comparison. No 
small feat, when one remembers that George Henry 
Lewes was writing, " that no one ventures to dis- 
pute, that our drama is extinct as a literature, and 
our stage is in a deplorable condition of decline,'' 
and with the lament, " that the critic's office is some- 
what of a sinecure just now in London," turned to 


France for dramatic work worthy of his considera- 

The farce of ' B. B.' followed, adding another to the 
number of remarkable successes by which his career 
at the small house in Wych Street was distinguished. 
On July 2, the Shylock burlesque having b6en revived 
for his benefit in the previous week, was installed in 
the evening bill. 

On October 5, he undertook the part of Hugh de 
Brass in 'A Regular Fix;' and on Nov. 17, played the 
farce of ' B. B.' by royal command, before the Queen, at 
Windsor Castle. In the Christmas burlesque ' Timour 
the Tartar,' Robson was but moderately well fitted 
with his part ; still, it fulfilled its purpose and ran until 
early in the new year, when the ' Chimney Corner ' was 
produced, another of the little domestic dramas written 
expressly and deliberately to his measure and capacity. 
He was absent from the bill through illness from May 
20 until after the summer vacation ; when he re- 
appeared on Sept. 23 as Tom Twigg, in a revival of 
his first Olympic success, 'Catching an Heiress.' Ill- 
ness again drove him from the stage. On Oct. 28, he 
reappeared in a new farce by John Oxenford, ' A Legal 
Impediment,' and was received with the most cordial 
and prolonged applause, which evoked from him a 
quiet " God bless you ! " The whole value of the 
farce consisted in the abundant opportunity it gave 
Robson to be droll in his own way. He played the 
out-door man of a firm of griping lawyers, pinched 
himself, and bespattered with mud of the streets, 
where he had caught, in spite of his little camlet 
cloak, a permanent cold that allowed him to get no 
further in the announcement of his own name, Slush, 


than H'ush. Mistaken for a better man in eccentric 
disguise, Mr. H'ush was invited to make himself at 
home over the fruit and wine of a city man's dessert ; 
and he did make himself at home. Robson's toasts 
and sentiments, his sentimental song, his disgust and 
astonishment on getting an olive into his mouth, — 
"they looks like gooseberries and they tastes like 
periwinkles," — all formed a thoroughly farcical and 
characteristically Robsonian performance and gave 
occasion for uproarious mirth. Another farce, ' Sport- 
ing Intelligence,' followed on Dec. 17, and on the 28th 
of the same month the Christmas burlesque, the ' King of 
the Merrows,' in which Robson played Dan the Piper. 

His repeated indisposition now became a subject of 
grave concern to his numerous admirers ; but on 
Feb. 24, 1862, he appeared in a new character, and 
never acted better. This was Abel Melford, the old 
property man, in 'A Fairy's Father.' An Easter 
burlesque, 'Fair Rosamond,' was given on April 21, 
in which he made Queen Ellinor a sort of grotesque 
Lady Macbeth, and quite one of the best things he 
had done since Medea. In June he was again too ill 
to act, but on July 7 he reappeared in a revival of the 
' Porter's Knot.' During the remainder of that season 
and the early part of next, revivals of his old successes 
allowed him a fair amount of rest ; and on Nov. 10 he 
appeared, with much of his old power, as Dogbriar, 
the traveling tinker, in Watts Phillips's 'Camilla's 

This was the last new part which he created, and 
soon after this the attacks of his malady became more 
frequent, and his performances so fitful and uncer- 
tain that he may be said to have practically retired 


from the London stage. He expired of laryngeal 
consumption, at the early age of forty-three, on Aug. 
12, 1864, "depriving the stage," says Planch^, "of an 
actor who, had his physical powers been equal to his 
mental capacity, might have succeeded Edmund Kean 
in Richard III., Othello, and Sir Giles Overreach, with- 
out fear of comparison." 

His small size has been frequently alluded to ; but, 
judging by his portraits, he was a well-looking little 
man, and the account given above of his performance 
ol Prince Zefhyrsho'vis that he was by no means desti- 
tute of grace and elegance. 

No career recorded in the tragic pages of the 
history of Genius seems to me more pathetic than this 
of Frederick Robson. Goaded by the irresistible im- 
pulse of that fatal gift to the exercise of an art, the 
first condition of which — its publicity — must have 
been a continual torture to a man of his exquisite 
sensibility; wrestling from the first with a painful 
disease ; feeding it perforce with the stimulants which 
were necessary to carry him through the almost super- 
human exertions demanded of him by the trying parts 
he played ; stretching himself nightly on the rack that 
a frivolous world might laugh while it wept over his 
sufferings, he must have lived as he died, with the 
touching cry often in his heart, if not on his lips, 
"Oh, my wasted and unprofitable life." And yet 
this is not the most tragic point in the history of his 
martyrdom. With all his stupendous genius he was 
denied the poor consolation of faith in his own 
powers. He never could be persuaded to attempt 
a higher walk of his art than burlesque ; though the 
unanimous voice of contemporary criticism proclaimed 


him worthy heir to the throne of Garrick and of Kean. 
Surely such a man deserves of us the respect and ad- 
miration due to one who sacrificed everything, even 
his life, for his fellow men, — if only for their amuse- 

Edw. Hamilton Bell. 

As an illustration of the extreme length to which 
prejudice of caste could in those days affect an actor, 
I remember meeting the lessee of the Theatre Royal 
[Dublin], who inquired if I could recommend the 
name of a comedian I considered sufficiently up to 
the mark to suit the patrons of his establishment. I 
thought for a moment and recollected I had recently 
seen at the Grecian Saloon, in London, a gentleman 
who would be precisely the person he wanted. 

"What's his name?" said the manager. 

"Robson," said I. 

"Robson," echoed he; "where did you see him?" 

"At rtie Grecian Saloon," I replied. 

"Ugh ! Wouldn't have him if he'd come for noth- 
ing ! " 

Since the date of the above, Mr. Robson, prior to 
his death, rose to the highest grade in London, and 
able reviewers claimed for him a position as an artist 
second only to Bouff^ of the French stage. 

William Davidge : 'Footlight Flashes,' <r^a/. 7. 

New triumphs awaited him. In the burlesque of 
the ' Yellow Dwarf,' he showed a mastery of the 
grotesque which approached the terrible. Years 
before, in Macbeth, he had personated a red-headed. 


fire-eating, whiskey-drinking Scotcliman, — and in 
Shylock, a servile, fawning, obsequious, yet, wiien 
emergency arose, a passionate and vindictive Jew. In 
the ' Yellow Dwarf ' he was the jaundiced embodi- 
ment of a spirit of Oriental evil : crafty, malevolent, 
greedy, insatiate, — full of mockery, mimicry, lubricity, 
and spite, — an Afrit, a Djinn, a Ghoul, a spawn of 
Sheitan. How that monstrous orange-tawny head 
grinned and wagged ! How those flaps of ears were 
projected forward, like unto those of a dog ! How 
balefully those atrabilious eyes glistened ! You 
laughed, and yet you shuddered. He spoke in mere 
doggerel and slang. He sang trumpery songs to 
negro melodies. He danced the Lancashire clog- 
hornpipe ; he rattled out puns and conundrums ; yet 
did he contrive to infuse into all this mummery and 
buffoonery, into his salmagundi of the incongruous 
and the ouM, an unmistakably tragic element, — an 
element of depth and strength and passion, and almost 
of sublimity. The mountebank became inspired. 
The Jack Pudding suddenly drew the cothurnus over 
his clogs. You are awe-stricken by the intensity, the 
vehemence, he threw into the mean balderdash of the 
burlesque-monger. These qualities were even more 
apparent in his subsequent personation of Medea, in 
Robert Brough's parody of the Franco-Italian tragedy. 
The love, the hate, the scorn, of the abandoned wife 
of Jason, the diabolic loathing in which he holds 
Creiisa, the tigerish affection with which she regards 
the children whom she is afterwards to slay, — all these 
were portrayed by Robson, through the medium, be it 
always remembered, of doggerel and slang, with as- 
tonishing force and vigor. The original Medea, the 


great Ristori herself, came to see Robson, and was 
delighted with and amazed at him. She scarcely 
understood two words of English, but the actor's 
genius struck her home through the bull's-hide target 
of an unknown tongue. " Uomo straordinario ! " she 
went away saying. 

George Augustus Sala, in the Atlantic Monthly, 
June, 1864. 

Robson was a marvelous little fellow. Full of 
energy, uneducated, quick as lightning in his appreci- 
ation of humor, and sparkling with fun. Restless at 
rehearsal, going over and over again whatever dissat- 
isfied him, and bothering his fellow-actors by changing 
his business from day to day until he had hit upon 
exactly what he was going to do. I have seen him 
stop during rehearsal and laugh, till the tears rolled 
down his cheeks, at some ridiculous idea which had 
struck him. He was never tired ; but business 
bothered him, and luckily for him he had an excellent 
steady man for a partner in the management, Emden, 
who had been at one time acting manager to the 

Francis Cowley Burnand, in the Brooklyn Daily 
Eagle, Oct. 25, 1885. 


1824 — 1879. 


Romantic Fechter ! thou who made us feel 
The depth of Armand's love for poor Camillej 
Who victor stood o'er Pauline's startled heart 
E'en while her pride received the galling dart ; — 
For thee, fond memory pauses in the race 
Of quick events, to mark thy glowing face. 
Lover par excellence, and debonair, 
What Ruy Bias like thine, or Lagadire? 
The warmth of Italy, the grace of France, 
Combined to make thee hero of romance. 

William L. Keese. 



Genius is no more a matter of accident than the 
rising of the sun. Though genius dazzle with the un- 
expected brilliancy of a comet, like a comet it has its 
regular orbit, and when the science of art is dis- 
covered, the world will know the cause as well as the 
effect of human greatness. 

Blood has never told a more straightforward story 
than in the character of Charles Fechter, in whose an- 
cestors are the beginnings of himself. With artistic 
proclivities on both sides of the house, — with the hot 
blood of Italy, the speculative blood of Germany, 
strongly impregnated with French verve, flowing 
through his veins, — Charles Fechter, though born in 
London, England, on Oct. 23, 1824, was a man with- 
out a country. His art, however, was pre-eminently 
French, for in 1836 Paris became the home of his 
parents. For two years Charles was sent to school at 
Boulogne-sur-Seine, after which, at the age of twelve, 
the vivacious, imaginative boy returned home to aid 
in supporting the family by assisting his father in 
making bronzes and candelabra. Between working 
hours Fechter studied French with Hersant, his draw- 
ing master, read the classics and dreamed of the 
theatre which he frequented with the constancy of a 
pa.ssionate lover. It is not strange, therefore, that the 
IV. — 14 209 


youth, destined by his father to be a sculptor, should, 
as early as 1840, have associated himself with an 
amateur theatrical company and have made his dibut 
at the Salle Moliere 2& jeune premier in Dumas's' Mari 
de la Veuve.' Fechter's success was so great that after 
his performance, St. Aulaire, Rachel's first instructor, 
went to him saying : " My boy, if you will come to my 
cours (class), I will teach you for nothing." "And if 
you make the stage your profession, I will give you 
all my parts ! " added Scribe who, unknown, had 
witnessed the d^but. Fechter could not accept St. 
Aulaire's generous offer, his presence being needed in 
his father's studio, but the bent of nature could not 
long be thwarted. One year later, the stage-struck 
youth set off for Florence to play the interesting 
lovers in Duvernoir's French company. Fechter won 
praise from the ^/> Hubert Stanleys of the period, but 
alas! more glory than shekels fell to the lot of the 
manager who, at the end of six weeks, called his com- 
pany together, and dismissed them with little more 
than his blessing. With characteristic generosity, 
Fechter divided his share of pence among poorer 
actors and returned home. To please his father he 
became a student of the Academic des Beaux Arts, 
while to please himself he entered the Conservatoire 
determined to study for the Theatre Fran^ais. At the 
end of three weeks Fechter left the latter school, dis- 
gusted with a regime in which no two professors 
agreed. Disheartened, he gave up thoughts of the 
stage and put his best energies into his night work at 
the Beaux Arts, where in 1844 he was one of the 
graduating class competing for the first grand medal, 
which includes the high honor of being sent to Rome 


for five years at government expense. Fechter won 
the prize. 

"You must go," said Fechter /^r*, dancing with 

" It is impossible," answered the son. " My heart 
is wedded to the theatre." 

Then the father learned that Charles had rehearsed 
before the tribunal of the Theatre Fran9ais and had 
received a call to make his debut in Se'ide of Voltaire's 
'Mahomet,' and in Valere of Moliere's 'Tartuffe.' 
Fechter won his spurs in both tragedy and comedy 
and gained Rachel's good-will; but human nature is 
weak, artists are sadly jealous, and perhaps it is not 
strange that old socie'taires looked with ill-favor upon 
the youth of nineteen who had jumped so suddenly 
into popularity. Fechter's second debut in ' Les Hor- 
aces ' with Rachel, and in ' Le Menteur,' were received 
with plaudits and the aspirant became a regular mem- 
ber of the Theatre Frang:ais ; but though he had a 
right to a third d^ut, with his own selection of parts, 
this and other rights were denied. Fechter felt that 
the socie'taires never intended to give him fair play; 
and when in 1846 the salary of evtry pensionaire was 
raised, his excepted, the intention could not be mis- 
taken. After appealing in vain for justice, Fechter at 
the end of eighteen months, left the theatre in a glory 
of indignation. A more politic man would have 
known better how to overcome his enemies, but wisdom 
and Fechter were never boon companions. 

Fechter's next appearance was at Berlin. After a 
successful season of nine months he went to London 
with a troupe of admirable artists, and acted at the St. 
James's Theatre for four months during the season of 


1847. The Queen and Prince Consort were constant 
attendants. It was then that Fechter became ac- 
quainted with Louis Napoleon. " The next time we 
meet will be in the Tuileries," said Napoleon to the 
actor on bidding him good-bye. 

" That is somewhat doubtful," answered Fechter, 
" for I really do not intend to be king." " No," replied 
the man of destiny, "but I intend to be Emperor." 

Napoleon's prophecy came to pass. 

Fechter made so strong an impression in London 
that Maddox, manager of the Princess's, offered him 
jT^ifi a week for three years, if he would appear on the 
English stage. Fechter was willing, but an engage- 
ment at the Paris Ambigu prevented his acceptance. 
Toward the end of February, 1848, the young actor 
returned tcf Paris, made his entree in a new play ' La 
Famille Thureau,' only to have his prospects ruined 
by the Revolution. After twelve nights the Ambigu 
closed. Fechter solaced himself with shooting and 
fencing, in both of which he was an expert, until he 
appeared in the summer of 1848 at the Varieties in 
' Oscar XXVIII,' a travesty of royalty on one side 
and of mad democracy on the other. It was a daring 
act, but Fechter knew his people and the burlesque 
drew crowded audiences of reactionists. Later, Fech- 
ter fulfilled an engagement at the Theatre Historique, 
and in 1849 appeared again at the Ambigu where, in 
twelve months he created seven characters. 1850 and 
1851 were equally divided between the Theatre His- 
torique and the Porte St. Martin. During this period 
Fechter created the ' Corsican Brothers,' that ran for 
one hundred nights. From 1852 to 1858 Fechter was 
the star of the Vaudeville where the new plays were 


produced, where Dumas's ' Dame aux Cam61ias ' ran 
for three hundred nights, owing quite as much to 
Fechter's wonderful conception and creation of 
Armand Duval, a secondary character, as to Madame 
Doche's personation of the heroine. " What can I say 
of Fechter," wrote Dumas, " that the world does not 
say and know ? He is the most youthful, most ardent, 

most enthusiastic of artists He has the action, 

the look, the voice of our inmost emotions, of our most 
frequent passions," etc. 

After a brilliant tour in the provinces, followed by 
a ten months' engagement at the Porte-St.-Martin, 
Fechter assumed the management of the Od^on with 
the intention of producing standard plays in a manner 
heretofore unknown, and on closing his first season of 
nine months, during frhich he had brought out 
' Tartuffe ' with great eclat, he determined that his 
reopening should mark an era in dramatic art How- 
ever, on being refused by the French government the 
right to perform such plays as were the exclusive 
property of the Theatre Franfais, Fechter with his 
usual hot-headed impetuosity, bade farewell to Paris 
and crossed over to England where, under Harris's 
management, he made his debut at the Princess's in 
' Ruy Bias ' on Oct. 27, i860. The novelty of seeing an 
eminent French actor translated into English, created 
a profound sensation. Ruy Bias became the hero of 
a hundred nights. Prior to this d^but, Fechter devoted 
himself for four months to our stern Anglo-Saxon 
tongue, studying sixteen hours out of the twenty-four. 
' Ruy Bias ' was followed by the ' Corsican Brothers ' and 
'Don Cesar de Bazan,' and on March 20, 1861, Fech- 
ter first essayed Hamlet. It was aiming high, but not 


higher than he could attain. Courage is the friendly 
breeze that ever fills the sails of genius. His concep- 
tion of the Dane was so thoroughly original as to be 
the open-sesame to conversation. The actor became 
a lion; and the tragedy drew London for one hundred 
and fifteen nights. 

Assuming lesseeship of the Lyceum, Fechter ap- 
peared in the ' Duke's Motto ' on Jan. lo, 1863. For 
seven months this drama attracted great audiences, 
and was withdrawn in the full tide of success to make 
way for ' Bel Demonio.' ' Hamlet ' was revived for forty 
nights, and the autumn season of 1864 opened with 
Paul Meurice's comedy-drama, the ' King's Butterfly.' 
The ' Mountebank ' and the ' Roadside Inn,' a new 
version of ' Robert Macaire ' followed, and a revival 
of 'Ruy Bias' brought the summer season of 1865 to a 
close. The ' Watch Cry,' a drama in three acts, and 
the ' Master of Ravenswood ' occupied the Lyceum 
stage in September, 1866. Then, after personating 
Hamlet and the Corsican Brothers for six weeks, 
Fechter produced his own drama of ' Rouge et Noir,' 
founded on ' Thirty Years of a Gambler's Life.' It 
lived luxuriously for one hundred and fifty nights. 
Fechter's next great success was in Claude Melnotte. 
After a run of seventy nights, the 'Lady of Lyons' 
made way for ' No Thoroughfare,' produced at the 
Adelphi on Nov. 16, 1867, Fechter having relin- 
quished the management of the Lyceum. Fechter's 
powerful rendering of Obenreizer made the drama. 
Later, Fechter won double laurels for one hundred 
nights in his clever adaptation of ' Monte Cristo ;' 
after which he appeared in ' Black and White,' the 
joint work of himself and Wilkie Collins. 1869 saw 


Fechter bidding farewell to London and the prov- 
inces, prior to his departure for the United States, 
where an eager public assembled in Niblo's Garden, 
New York, on Jan. 10, 1870, to witness ' Ruy Bias.' 
The effect was identical with that produced in Lon- 
don. Fechter's appearance in the * Duke's Motto ' 
confirmed the public in their enthusiastic admiration. 
' Hamlet ' produced a sensation. In Boston people 
went Fechter mad. In New York the new star was 
admired ; in Boston he founded a religion, and there 
he became manager of a new theatre (the Globe), 
where art was to receive a new impetus. Alas ! 
Fechter's unhappy temper, inherited from his father, 
wrecked the fortunes of the Globe in Boston as 
well as of the Lyceum in New York, built for him 
by capitalists, but which never knew its creator as 
manager. Personally, Fechter soon ceased to be 
popular in the United States, through no one's fault 
but his own. He ignored or quarrelled with those 
upon whom his success depended. It was pitiful. 
Karl, in 'Love's Penance,' produced at the Park 
Theatre, New York, on April 13, 1874, was Fechter's 
last creation. From that time forward he was content 
with the repertoire that had made him famous. In 
some towns, especially Boston, he exercised all his old 
power ; in others he was not appreciated. Falling on 
the ice in 1876, Fechter broke his leg, — a misfortune 
that made him physically infirm and cast additional 
gloom upon his career. The end was not long in 
coming. Appearing publicly by flashes, Fechter 
sought seclusion on his farm, which he bought in 
July, 1873, having always said that the farmer was 
the happiest and most independent of men. To begin 


a career in Paris and to end it in tiie little village of 
Rockland Centre, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is as 
strange a contrast as can well befall a mortal. In an 
old, unpretentious country house, a few feet from the 
highway, the ideal stage lover passed the greater part 
of the last three years of his life in fishing and hunt- 
ing. Nature could not restore Fechter to health. 
For years his digestive organs had been impaired ; 
and it was not unusual for his stomach to be dis- 
tended with gas, causing great suffering and render- 
ing clothing insupportable. Yet, in this condition he 
enchanted many an audience. Imagination triumphs 
over matter, but matter has its revenge in the end. 
Fechter disappointed the public again and again. 
The public attributed his non-appearance to dissipa- 
tion. The actor was on the road to the grave, and at 
six o'clock, on the morning of Aug. 5, 1879, he died 
in a stupor. 

Those of us who believe in Fechter's qualities do 
not care to remember the blots in the escutcheon. 
He was a benefactor to dramatic art. Let that fact 
suffice. Faiblesse vaut vice was his life-long motto ; 
and his inherited curse. If nature has endowed us with 
less waywardness and more self-control than fell to 
the lot of Charles Albert Fechter, the more reason 
have we to thank God, and to encircle with charity 
the memory of an unhappy genius. 

" Rest, perturbed spirit." 

Kate Field. 


In melodrama Mr. Fechter acts effectively and 
without extravagance. He suits action to word with 
a nicety not usual upon the English stage, and with- 
out obtrusion of his art where he is most superficial. 
Thus, when he says to Mr. Walter Lacy in the last 
scene, "I was your lacquey, now I am your execu- 
tioner," by the help of a chair and a drawn sword he 
places himself — standing in the middle of the stage — 
in a natural position instantly suggestive of the con- 
ventional attitude of the headsman, and draws loud 
applause. Few melodramatic actors could venture 
upon such an effect, for the least hardness or clumsi- 
ness of manner would make it ridiculous. Mr. Fechter 
speaks good English, with no more of his own accent 
than clings usually to an educated Frenchman resident 
among us. 

Henry Morley : ' Journal of a London Playgoer,' 
Nov. 10, i860. 

Cheltenham, Oct. 31, 1861. 

I do not know how much to touch upon your 

notice of M. Fechter's performance without seeming 
to be ill-natured, which I do not wish to be. From the 
judgment I had formed upon the various critiques I 
had read, and the descriptions of him I had heard, I 
could not help thinking that, in your surprise at a 
foreigner doing so much with a masterpiece of our 
language, you were betrayed into giving him credit 
for more than he really could do. I longed to hear 
what you would say of his attempt at Othello. Your 
remarks do not much differ from what I had expected. 
Thank you for the copy of the play as interpreted by 
Fechter. It should not have been published. The 


real artist does not pre-engage your opinion by tell- 
ing you what he is going to draw: if the tree, or rock, 
or man, or woman do not describe themselves on the 
canvas, the writing underneath will not persuade us 
of the resemblance. His views of the subject show 
him to me to be a clever man, but altogether super- 
ficial in his power of investigation. He cannot per- 
ceive where the poet gives language to his creations, 
in his profound knowledge of the human heart, in 
direct contradiction of the feelings that oppress them. 
I would not use severe terms, but cannot find a truer 
word to express my sense of M. Fechter's concep- 
tions, than to confess they appear to me shallow. 
There is frequent perversion of the author's meaning, 
and complete blindness as to the emotions of his 
characters, — e. g., the demission of his lofty nature to 
bestow a thought upon that miserable thing lago, when 
his great mind had made itself up to die ! To nie it 
was in the worst taste of a small melodramatic theatre. 

A friend of mine in Paris, on whose judgment I 
place great reliance, as I do on yours, in answer to 
my inquiries, informed me that he was regarded there 
as a clever melodramatic actor, but un peu exagere. 
The appreciators of Talma are not likely to be insen- 
sible to the merits of a great theatrical artist. But 
for myself I can only, as you are aware, offer an 
opinion on the direct points of the case, which the 
newspapers and M. Fechter's own publication lay 
before me. 

Wm. C. Macreadv, to Mrs. Pollock, quoted in Ma- 
cready's ' Reminiscences,' etc., Letters. 

His. Hamlet was one of the very best, and his 


Othello one of the very worst I have ever seen. 
On leaving the theatre after ' Hamlet ' I felt once 
more what a great play it was, with all its faults, and 
they are gross and numerous. On leaving the theatre 
after ' Othello ' I felt as if my old admiration for this 
supreme masterpiece of the art had been an exag- 
geration : all the faults of the play stood out so 
glaringly, all its beauties were so dimmed and dis- 
torted by the acting of every one concerned. It was 
necessary to recur to Shakspere's pages to recover the 

old feeling Both in Hamlet and Othello Fech- 

ter attempts to be natural, and keeps as far away as 
possible from the conventional declamatory style 
which is by many mistaken for idealism only because 
it is unlike reality. His physique enabled him to 
represent Hamlet and his naturalism was artistic. His 
physique wholly incapacitated him from representing 
Othello s and his naturalism, being mainly determined 

by his personality, became utter feebleness 

Fechter is lymphatic, delicate, handsome, and with his 
long flaxen curls, quivering sensitive nostrils, fine 
eyes and sympathetic voice perfectly represents the 
graceful prince. His aspect and bearing are such 
that the eye rests on him with delight. Our sympa- 
thies are completely secured. All those scenes which 
demand the qualities of an accomplished comedian he 
plays to perfection. Seldom have the scenes with the 
players, with Polonius, with Horatio, with Rosencrantz 
and Guildenstern, or the quieter monologues been 
better played ; they are touched with so cunning a 
grace, and a manner so natural that the effect is de- 
lightful. We not only feel in the presence of an indi- 
vidual, a character, but feel that the individual is 


consonant with our previous conception of Hamlet, 

and with the part assigned him in the play 

Physically then we may say that his Hamlet is perfectly 
satisfactory ; nor is it intellectually open to more 
criticism than must always arise in the case of a char- 
acter which admits of so many readings. It is cer- 
tainly a fine conception, consonant in general with 
what the text of Shakspere indicates. It is the nearest 
approach I have seen to the realization of Goethe's 
idea, expounded in the celebrated critique in ' Wilhelm 
Meister ' that there is a burden laid on Hamlet too 
heavy for his soul to bear. The refinement, the femi- 
nine delicacy, the vacillation of Hamlet, are admirably 
represented : and it is only in the more tragic scenes 
that we feel any shortcoming. For these scenes he 
wants the txz.%td!\2iVL%personality; and once for all let me 
say that \)y personality I do not simply mean the qual- 
ities of voice and person, but the qualities which give 
the force of animal passion demanded by tragedy, and 
which can not be represented except by a certain animal 
power In general, it may be said that ac- 
complished an actor as Fechter certainly is, he has 
allowed the acting manager to gain the upper hand. 
In his desire to be effective by means of small details 
of business, he has entirely fritted away the great 
effects of the drama. He has yet to learn the virtue 
of simplicity ; he has yet to learn that tragedy acts 
through the emotions, and not through the eye ; what- 
ever distracts attention from the passion of the scene 
is fatal. That while his Hamlet satisfied the audience 
by being at once naturally conceived and effectively 
represented, his Othello left the audience perfectly 
cold, or interested only as by a curiosity, because it 


■was unnaturally conceived and feebly executed. Had 
the execution been fine, the false conception would 
have been forgotten or pardoned. 

George Henry Lewes: 'On Actors and the Art 
of Acting,' chap, ii, pp. 117-118, 119-izo, 120-121, 

We went to see Fechter's Othello the other night 
It is lamentably bad. He has not weight and passion 
enough for deep tragedy ; and, to my feeling, the play 
is so degraded by his representation that it is positively 
demoralizing — as, indeed, all tragedy must be when 
it fails to move pity and terror. In this case it seems 
to move only titters among the smart and vulgar 
people who always make the bulk of a theatre audi- 

George Eliot, in ' Life,' by J. W. Cross, vol. it., 
chap, n, Nov. 20, 1861. 

He was a very good Boulevard actor, and avowedly 
an imitator of Frederick Lemaitre. To see him and 
Lemaitre as Ruy Bias, for instance, were two very 
different things. Fechter knew this as well as any one 
else ; he never could have done much at the Theatre 
Franfais, whatever place he might have occupied at 
the Porte St. Martin. We were speaking together one 
day of Firmin's acting as Don John of Austria. I re- 
member seeing him when I was a lad, and recall how 
admirably he indicated the soldier beneath the garb of 
the priest. Compelled by his father, the young warrior 
had taken holy orders, but his gait, his bearing, his 
whole manner, were martial. The contrast was striking 
in its incongruity. I asked Fechter if he could have 


managed such an effect, and he frankly admitted that 
he could not. I saw his Armand when he played in 
' La Dame aux Camelias' with Mme. Doche in 1850, 
and liked him in it ; but that did not demand acting 
of the highest class, as Ruy Bias did. As for his 
Hamlet, well, his appearance was most picturesque, and 
had it been possible to see him without hearing him, 
the personation would have satisfied one. It was a 
performance a deaf man might have revelled in. But 
when he came to speak, it was buffoonery. If words 
and tones mean anything at all, they demand an 
adequate interpretation. Fechter could not speak 
English and that ended the whole matter. Even as 
far back as 1851, when I breakfasted with him in 
Paris, he had the distended stomach that has been 
referred to in the obituaries ; the physicians had told 
him that it was caused by an acid turning into gas. 
He indulged in the most remarkable beverage — cham- 
pagne and brandy. "I don't see how you can drink 
that," I would say. " Ah ! you have never tasted it," 
he would rejoin, enthusiastically. 

Dion Boucicault, reported in the New York Sun, 
Aug. 10, 1879. 

I have met with many children who had a clearer 
idea than he possessed of pecuniary responsibilities. 
When he wanted money he borrowed it of the first 
friend whom he met, with the firmest imaginary belief 
in his capacity to make repayment at the shortest 
possible date. Under the same delusion he allowed 
greedy adventurers, in want of supplies, to involve 
him in debt with tradespeople by making their pur- 
chases in his name. His sympathy with worthier 


friends in a state of pecuniary embarrassment was 
boundless. When he had no money to spare, and he 
was asked for a loan of "a few hundred pounds," he 
had no hesitation in borrowing the money from the 
friend who had it, and handing the sum over to the 
friend who had it not. When I remonstrated with 
him, he was always ready with his answer, " My dear 
Wilkie, you know I love you. Do you think I should 
love you if I didn't firmly believe that you would do 
just the same thing in my place ? " He might have 
ended, poor fellow, by putting me in the wrong in a 
better way than this ; he might have paid all his 
debts, and died with a mind at ease, but for that 
second defect in his character to which it is now my 
hard duty to allude. 

The curse of an ungovernable temper was the curse 
of Fechter's life. 

I am not speaking of mere outbreaks of furious 
anger. He was too sensitive and too generous a 
man not to be able to atone for forgetting himself in 
this way, as soon as his composure was restored. 
But, when he once took offence, a lurking devil satu- 
rated his whole being with the poison of unjust suspi- 
cion and inveterate hatred ; and that devil, the better 
influences about him, distrusted rather than encour- 
aged by himself, were powerless to cast out. 

I have no heart to dwell on the number of friends 
(honestly admiring him, eager to serve him, guiltless 
of consciously offending him) whom he estranged for- 
ever, — self-deceived by his own impulsive misinterpre- 
tation of motives, or misled by false reports which 
he had no patience to examine before he accepted 
them as truths. When he first fascinated American 


audiences (there is no exaggeration of his influence in 
using that word) he was ofifered, by formal agreement, 
pecuniary prospects which would have assured to him, 
as the reward for a few years' exercise of his art, a 
more than sufificient income for life. He quarrelled 
with the man, the thoroughly honest and responsible 
man who made him that offer. At a little social 
gathering, in the United States, the friend thus es- 
tranged said to me, "To this day I don't know what 
I did to give offence." 

Other persons present were surprised to see that he 
spoke with tears in his eyes. I, who knew the irresist- 
ible attraction of Fechter, when he was in possession 
of himself, understood and respected that honest dis- 
tress. It is useless to pursue this subject by citing 
other examples. When Fechter died in poverty, far 
away from relatives and friends in the Old World, it 
is not true, — I assert it from what I myself had oppor- 
tunities of knowing, — it is not true to say that the 
miserable end was due to connections which he formed 
while in the United States. The one enemy to his 
prosperity was the enemy in himself. He paid the 
penalty of his ungovernable temper, — and no man can 
own it with truer sorrow than the man who has reluct- 
antly written these lines. 

WiLKiE Collins, in Miss Kate Field's 'Fechter,'^. 

He was the best love-maker I ever saw on the stage; 
he threw his whole heart and soul into it, and made 
love not merely in words but with the inflections of 
his voice, with his attitudes, with his eyes. Ruy Bias 
was unquestionably his best part. It had no blot. 


His love for the Queen was most charmingly expressed; 
and in the last act of rage and vengeance on the 
traitor he was positively sublime. Mounet-Sully, who 
is the present Ruy Bias of the Comddie Fran9aise, and 
who appeared in England with Sara Bernhardt, is not 
to be compared to Fechter. I am afraid Lewes is 
right about^liis Othello. It was a desperately poor 
performance, full of French tricks and nonsense ; but, 
on the other hand, his lago was admirable. ' Hamlet' 
was the play with which he made most money. He 
had extraordinary dramatic power off the stage. 
Many and many a time he has kept me up till two or 
three in the morning, telling the plot of some piece 
which he intended to produce, and walking about the 
room, acting each scene and each character. He had 
a most unhappy knack of quarreling with people, — 
often those with whom he had been most intimate. 

I recollect Dickens saying to me of him once that 
he had never met anybody with greater appreciative 
power of reading character. " He seemed," Dickens 
said, " to combine a man's insight with a woman's 

Edmund Yates, in Miss Kate Field's ' Fechter,' 
//. 148, 149. 

The first quality observable in Mr. Fechter's acting 
is, that it is in the highest degree romantic. However 
elaborated in minute details, there is always a peculiar 
dash and vigor in it, like the fresh atmosphere of the 
story whereof it is a part. When he is on the stage, 
it seems to me as though the story were transpiring 
before me for the first and last time. Thus there is a 
fervor in his love-making — a suffusion of his whole 
IV.— 15 


being with the rapture of his passion — ^that sheds a 
glory on its object, and raises her, before the eyes of 
the audience, into the light in which he sees her. 

It was this remarkable power that took Paris by 
storm, when he became famous in the lover's part in 
the ' Dame aux Camelias.' It is a short part, really 
comprised in two scenes ; but, as he acted it (he was 
its original representative), he left its poetic and exalt- 
ing influence on the heroine throughout the play. A 
woman who could be so beloved, who could be so 
devotedly and romantically adored, had a hold upon 
the general sympathy with which nothing less absorb- 
ing and complete could have invested her 

Picturesqueness is a quality above all others per- 
vading Mr. Fechter's assumptions. Himself a skilled 
painter and sculptor, learned in the history of costume, 
and informing those accomplishments and that knowl- 
edge with a similar infusion of romance (for romance 
is inseparable from the man), he is always a picture, — 
always a picture in its right place in the group, always 
in true composition with the background of the scene. 
For picturesqueness of manner, note so trivial a thing 
as the turn of his hand in beckoning from a window, in 
' Ruy Bias,' to a personage down in an outer court- 
yard to come up ; or his assumption of the Duke's 
livery in the same scene ; or his writing a letter from 
dictation. In the last scene of Victor Hugo's noble 
drama, his bearing becomes positively inspired : and 
his sudden assumption of the attitude of the heads- 
man, in his denunciation of the Duke and threat to be 
his executioner, is, so far as I know, one of the most 
ferociously picturesque things conceivable on the 


This leads me to the observation with which I have 
all along desired to conclude : that Mr. Fechter's ro- 
mance and picturesqueness are always united to a 
true artist's intelligence and a true artist's training in 
a true artist's spirit. He became one of the company 
at the Theatre Frangais when he was a very young 
man, and he has cultivated his natural gifts in the 
best schools. I cannot wish my friend a better audi- 
ence than he will have in the American people, and I 
cannot wish them abetter actor than they will have in 
my friend. 

Charles Dickens, in the Atlantic Monthly, August, 

It was the firm belief of Fechter's Hamlet, in de- 
fiance of general opinion to the contrary, that Queen 
Gertrude was Claudius's accomplice in the murder 
of her husband. In the time of Fechter's Hamlet 
it was the fashion in Denmark to wear a medallion 
portrait, swinging from a gold chain, round the 
neck. Fechter's Hamlet wore thus a portrait of his 
father ; the Queen wore a portrait of Claudius; 
Guildenstern was similarly adorned. Usually there 
is not a pin to choose between Rosencrantz and 
Guildenstern; the unfortunate gentlemen are alike 
odious to Hamlet, and they are slaughtered off the stage, 
at the instigation of that prince, after they have been 
well murdered in the presence of the house by their 
histrionic representatives. But to Fechter's Hamlet 
Rosencrantz was less hateful than Guildenstern : Rosen- 
crantz wore no portrait round his neck. When Fech- 
ter's Hamlet spoke his first speech, and compared the 
late king to Hyperion, and Claudius to a satyr, he 


produced and gazed fondly at his father's picture ; 
when he mentioned his uncle's " picture in little " he 
illustrated his meaning by handling the medallion 
worn by Guildenstern ; in the closet scene he places 
his miniature of his father side by side with his 
mother's miniature of Claudius ; when at the "close of 
their interview Gertrude outstretched her arm, and 
would embrace her son, he held up sternly the por- 
trait of his father ; the wretched woman recoiled and 
staggered from the stage ; ZTaW^/ reverentially kissed 
the picture as he murmured, " I must be cruel," etc. 
In the play-scene Fechter's Hamlet, when he rose at 
the discomforture of Claudius, tore the leaves from 
the play-book and flung them in the air ; in the scene 
with Ophelia, Fechter's Hamlet did not perceive that 
the King was watching him ; had he known that he 
would have been so convinced of his uncle's guilt that 
the play would have been unnecessary. In the fourth 
act, if Fechter's Hamlet \\did not been well guarded he 
would have killed the King then and there. In the 
last scene a gallery ran at the back of the stage with 
short flights of stairs on either side ; all exits and 
entrances were made by means of these stairs. Upon 
the confession of Laertes, the King endeavored to 
escape up the right-hand staircase ; Hamlet perceiving 
this, rushed up the left-hand stairs, and encountering 
Claudius in the centre of the gallery, there despatched 

Button Cook : ' Hours with the Players,' vol. ii., 
p. 261-3. 




Sleep, sleep, poor weary pilgrim, 

Thy life was mixed with toil, success and pain. 
Thy loss we mourn in this sad world of trial, 

Is to thee a blessing of immortal gain. 

Sleep, sleep. Thou shalt be remembered 
E'en tho' thou dwellest beyond the sky; 

Thy memory lives like the stars of even. 
And, Phcenix-like, Camille shall never die. 
Marie T. Courcelles. 



" A remarkable woman, as erratic in her moods as 
she was immovable in her serious resolves, possessed 
of a rare genius, one of the largest of human hearts, 
and the most impulsive of natures." Such is the testi- 
mony of one of her intimate friends to the character 
of Matilda Agnes Heron. She was an Irishwoman by 
birth, having first seen the light in the county of Lon- 
donderry, Dec. I, 1830. Her parents were in but 
moderate circumstances, as holders of a small farm, 
and were compelled to seek a home in the United 
States before Matilda had reached her teens. She 
was barely twelve years of age when she landed upon 
American soil, and was taken by her family to Phila- 
delphia. Her father died a few years after his change 
of home, but her brother, Alexander, became a very 
successful business man, and was subsequently well- 
known as the president of the Heron line of steamers 
plying between Charleston and Philadelphia. It was 
to this brother more than to any other on earth, save 
her adored daughter. Bijou, that she gave the pas- 
sionate love of her nature. The old shawl which 
had wrapped his form when he passed away was 
always cherished by her as a sacred relic, and when 
her own end drew near, she folded it around her 
body, saying, " Don't take it away; I want it to die 



on, — my brother died on it, you know." A similar in- 
cident is recorded of the widow of David Garrick, who, 
when she found the supreme hour approaching, de- 
sired that her wedding sheets should be brought and 
placed upon her bed. 

Matilda Heron, soon after her arrival in Philadelphia, 
was sent to school near the Walnut Street Theatre, and 
most of her pocket-money is said to have been spent in 
buying admission to the performances at that then 
classic house. Her love for the theatre and the 
glamour thrown around her somewhat romantic nature 
by the plays she witnessed induced her to place her- 
self under the tuition of the famous Peter Richings, 
whose stilted and labored style for many years marked 
her histrionic efforts, and even to the last clouded her 
natural genius with artificiality. Her first appearance 
on the stage took place at the Walnut, on Feb. 17, 
1 85 1, the character chosen for her d^but being that of 
Bianca, in the Rev. H. Hart Milman's tragedy of 
' Fazio.' Though the crudeness of the novice was 
apparent in this, her earliest effort, she displayed an 
amount of talent sufficient to induce her many friends 
to sustain her in her idea of following the stage as her 
calling, and most devotedly and earnestly did she con- 
secrate her powers to the study of the art she loved. 
She committed faithfully to memory the most popular 
of the leading female characters, and before a year had 
passed, she was familiar with the dialogue of Lady 
Macbeth, Julia in the ' Hunchback,' Juliana in the 
' Honeymoon,' the Countess in '■'Love,' Juliet, Mariana 
in the ' Wife,' and Pauline in the ' Lady of Lyons.' In 
185 1-2 she was at the National Theatre, Washington, 
where we find her appearing as Juliet to the Romeo of 


Charlotte Cushman, and so great was the appreciation 
she received during her stay in that city, that she was 
engaged by Thos. S. Hamblin as leading lady of the 
Bowery Theatre. She appeared in New York, on Aug. 
23, 1852, as Lady Macbeth, the Thane being played 
by the late Edward Eddy. It can hardly be said that 
her first metropolitan appearance was a success, the 
press notices of the day speaking rather slightingly of 
her weakness of voice and tameness of manner. After 
a season at the Bowery she returned to Philadelphia, 
playing at the Arch Street Theatre, and achieving a 
triumph as Parthenia and Mrs. Haller. Soon after 
she went to Boston, and it would appear that this 
visit was a turning point in her career, for it was here 
that she first acted with James E. Murdoch, who was 
her true friend through life, and to whom she was 
subsequently indebted for the opportunity to act in 
San Francisco, which secured her fame, and sent her 
forward to the public as a star. In Boston she sup- 
ported the great comedian in Miles's play of ' De Soto,' 
and gained considerable praise for her representation 
of the heroine Ulah. After another visit to the scene 
of her early triumph, Philadelphia, she quite unex- 
pectedly, to all her friends, sailed for California 
whither her kind friend and adviser, Murdoch, had 
preceded her, and landed in San Francisco late in 
December, 1853. With some difficulty she procured 
an opening at the American Theatre, since destroyed 
by fire, and chose for her appearance the part of 
Bianca, in which she had first asked the consideration 
of the public. Fazio was played by the manager of 
the theatre, Mr. John Lewis Baker, a valued and 
respected actor, and the husband of the lady so long 


and favorably known as Alexina Fisher Baker. To 
say that she was successful would be to speak but 
coldly of the enthusiasm which greeted her upon the 
Pacific slope. The wildest extravagance of language 
was indulged in to sound her praise, and one of her 
critics remarked : " Miss Heron has been so lauded 
by the press since her arrival in California that we 
should be almost obliged to invent a new dictionary 
from which to search for words to express our 
high estimate of her talent." But not alone did 
praise for her artistic gifts pour in upon her, but the 
devotion of half the jmnesse dorde of San Francisco 
was at her feet, and her admirers were numbered by 
the score. 

The one, however, who won the t)attle, and bore 
away in triumph the coveted prize, was a young 
and most able lawyer named Henry Herbert Byrne. 
The union, brief as it was, was productive of misery to 
both, and though the cause of the separation is 
shrouded even now in the deepest mystery, it is certain 
that upon Byrne's future it ever hung like a gloomy 
cloud, while the wife is known to have spoken, in her 
later days, with the warmest affection of " the first love 
of her life." The marriage, which was secret, took 
place on June lo, 1854, in St. Patrick's Church, San 
Francisco, and according to a previous arrangement, 
after a honeymoon of but five days, the bride sailed 
from California for the Eastern States, prepared to 
take her farewell of the stage, and lapse into the de- 
lightful domestic life which seemed to open up before 
her. The voyage, which was then made by way of Pana- 
ma, occupied nearly a month, and by a previous under- 
standing, as soon as his business affairs could be placed 


in a condition which would enable him to leave them 
for a time to the care of others, the bridegroom was to 
follow and bring his wife back to her western home. 
Mr. Byrne left San Francisco for Philadelphia early 
in September, joined his wife in Pittsburgh, remained 
in her society but a single night, then left her, never 
more to meet her on earth, and returned to San Fran- 
cisco a wretched and a broken man. The cause of this 
sudden parting is, as has been said, unknown ; but 
whatever it might have been, the two lives affected 
by it felt its force, and carried it with them to their 
graves. Mr. Byrne died in March, 1872, bequeathing 
a considerable fortune to his friend, Mr. E. Carpentier, 
even at the last endeavoring to blot the remembrance 
of the sad episode of his life out of his memory. He 
was spoken of in an obituary notice as a " pure and 
dignified gentleman, a thorough scholar, and a sincere 
friend, and as a lawyer his ability gained him a posi- 
tion at the bar attained by few." The writer, who 
knew him well and intimately, can bear ample testi- 
mony to his generous nature, and to his wide-spread 
knowledge, as well as to the shade of sorrow which 
darkened his life and cast an occasional gloom over 
what was naturally a bright and sunny nature. 

After this romantic but sad event of her career. Miss 
Heron took her departure for England, and appeared 
at Drury Lane in her old part of Bianca, receiving 
so high commendation from the press that had she 
chosen then to make England her home fortune and 
fame would surely have gleamed across her path. 
But she crossed the channel, visited Paris, and saw 
Mme. Doche acting in the ' Dame aux Camdlias,' 
which had taken the gay city by storm. It is related 


that "one night in the theatre some one tapped her 
on the shoulder and whispered, ' Tilly, if you translate 
that and introduce it at home you will make your 
fortune.' She turned in wonder ; it was her brother 
Alexander." Her reply was, "I'll do it;" and in a 
month she had translated the play, mastered the part, 
and taken passage for the land of her adoption. Her 
first essay in the character with which her fame is 
most closely associated was in October, 1855 ; but it 
was not until 1857 that she made her bow before a 
New York audience as Camille, and became at once 
recognized as an actress of unusual ability and power. 
The late Edward A. Sothern was the Armand of the 
occasion, and also supported the new star in many 
tragic parts of importance, including that of Jason in 
Miss Heron's own version of ' Medea.' From this 
time onwards, for several years, her career was one of 
continued triumph, and it has been said that she re- 
ceived for her performance of the heroine of Dumas' 
play not less than $100,000 for her share alone. She 
appeared in all the principal cities of the Union with 
boundless success, and in addition to ' Camille ' she 
produced her own dramas of ' Lesbia,' ' Mathilde,' 
' Gamea, the Hebrew Mother,' ' Duel in the Days of 
Richelieu,' and many others. It will thus be seen 
that not only in the direction of her own profession, 
but in that of literature she was earnest, industrious, 
and painstaking ; many of her plays evincing the pres- 
ence of refined taste and high dramatic power. 

In 1857 she was married to Mr. R. Stoepel, then the 
leader of the orchestra at Wallack's Theatre, and an 
accomplished musician. This union, like the previous 
marriage, was most unhappy, and she separated from 


Mr. Stoepel in 1869, one daughter, Bijou (now well- 
known as Mrs. Henry Miller), being the only child 
born to them. The causes of this separation are easy 
to understand. Mr. Stoepel was a careful man, with 
an eye to the future, and could not bear the flighty 
and capricious extravagance of his wife, who threw 
money about her with a lavish hand, heedless to whom 
she gave, or for what purpose it was applied. Uncon- 
geniality of nature and temperament, and — hinc ilia 

In i860, she paid her second visit to England in 
company with her husband, and in February of the 
following year, she again sought the suffrages of a 
London audience in an entertainment of a somewhat 
novel character, projected and arranged by Mr. Stoepel. 
This was no other than a recitation, with musical ac- 
companiment of Longfellow's poem of ' Hiawatha.' 
It is certain that Mrs. Stoepel charmed the Londoners 
by her reading, which was said by the Illustrated Lon- 
don News, to possess "a wild and fantastic interest, 
and to be fraught with intense beauty and feeling," 
but it is equally certain that the entertainment was a 
dismal failure, and that it was withdrawn after a run 
of two weeks. Later in the year she produced one of 
her own comedies ' New Year's Eve,' at the Lyceum 
Theatre, but it was not received with favor, and after 
a brief tour through France and Germany, she again 
returned to the United States early in 1862, and ap- 
peared at the Winter Garden in the play which had 
proved for her a failure in London, and which she 
now produced under its sub-title, the 'Belle of the 
Season.' It failed to draw and for some time after- 
wards, indeed until the close of her theatrical life. 


Camille was the only part which proved of pecuniary 
service to her, and it was in this that she always com- 
menced her starring engagements. In 1865, she again 
visited California, and was given an ovation by her 
old friends and admirers. She remained on the Pacific 
Coast about four months, having played successful en- 
gagements at most of the inland towns as well as at 
Virginia City, Nevada. From the time of her return 
to New York after her second visit to San Francisco, 
she appeared but little before the public, and gradu- 
ally sank into a half-obscurity. She took pupils for the 
stage, but she taught them little but how to play Camille 
from her own standpoint ; and her domestic troubles 
which now began to bear with telling effect upon her, 
made her careless of herself and reckless of her artistic 
reputation. The close of her life was of the saddest 
character — the once brilliant woman, noble and gener- 
ous to a fault, who gave of her hard earnings so openly 
that she herself often in consequence knew the actual 
pangs of starvation, her confidence in human nature 
wrecked by the ingratitude of many she had helped 
and cherished, and out of all to whom she gave 
her love, with none near her but her adored Bijou 
— poor in the bitterest acceptation of the term, 
prematurely old, and with the once sparkling intel- 
lect dimmed and gone astray, presented a spectacle 
in her latter years that the coldest heart could but 
regard with pity, and with a tender lament for the 
contrast between her fading life and the days of her 
plenitude and her pride. Death must have come to 
her as a welcome " surcease of sorrow," and when the 
curtain fell for the last time upon the drama of her 
life, it shut from our view a woman who though 


eccentric and wild in her nature, was gifted with one of 
the most gentle of human hearts, and upon an artist 
of undoubted genius, who with happier surroundings, 
would have left even a broader mark than she has 
done upon the dramatic history of her period. She 
died in New York, May 7, 1877. Her last words were 
" Tilly never did harm to any one — poor Tilly is so 
happy " — and the turbulent spirit went out to its life 
of peace and rest, free from the turmoil, the strife, 
the heart-crushing disappointments it had encountered 


Henry Edwards. 

The night of the twenty-second of January [1857] 
was cold and uninviting. There was no opera, and I 
know not why I was anxious to witness the debut of a 
Western actress at Wallack's Theatre ; but it was 
fated, and I sallied forth into the snow. I sat in the 
orchestra, and was not at all crowded. There came 
upon the stage a fine woman with an easy manner, 
and who spoke two or three words in a natural tone. 
I was surprised at the phenomenon, and attended to 
what she should do or say next. Of course I was 
amazed at her daring portrayal of Camille; but when 
the curtain fell at the end of the first act I acknowl- 
edged the spell of genius. As the play went on I be- 
came absorbed. By and by, eye and ear were both 
touched by an electricity that reached brain and 
heart ; and ere the climax I had experienced such 
a wrenching and tightening of emotions, such 
a whirlwind of feeling, as made criticism impossi- 
ble. All I had to do was to give myself up to the 


sway of the magician to be swept away by the tor- 
rent of enthusiasm in which the whole audience was 

And first of all her naturalness. This first demands 
applause from the most discerning critic, and ends by 
provoking cavils. This first forces itself upon your 
notice, this first rivets your attention ; this is the 
great secret of her acting, — is her talent, ay, and her 
art. Surely naturalness cannot be decried. And yet 
this is not only her great peculiarity, it is, perhaps, her 
fault. She is absolutely too natural. She portrays a 
character exactly as it is, not without one touch of 
grace not its own, but with every touch of awkward- 
ness belonging to it. She not only adds nothing, but 
subtracts nothing. She not only idealizes not, refines 
not, elevates not ; she eliminates nothing of coarse or 
displeasing ; she spares no harrowing thought, no dis- 
gusting minutiae ; she is not only terrible in her life- 
likeness, but at times offensive. And yet this very 
offensiveness adds to her thrall over you : you are 
held in spite of your dislike because of it. The vul- 
garity of the earlier scenes in ' Camille ' is fearful in 
its faithfulness, but effective as well ; the repulsive- 
ness of the sick-bed scene is painfully real. And 
here Miss Heron differs from any other actress I have 
seen. All others refine, in some degree, either by 
throwing a charm around a character that it cannot 
really claim, or by concealing defects which it abso- 
lutely possesses. Here, too, Miss Heron differs espe- 
cially from the great French actress with whom she 
has been sometimes compared ; for this Western per- 
former has indeed thrust herself into the foremost 
rank, and is to be judged only by comparison with 


the foremost. As she is great, she must, in many 

things, be like her who is greatest So in her 

love scenes. Rachel could not love, — at least on the 
stage ; she was too intellectual. But Miss Heron is 
more of the woman ; none of the statue about her ; 
her full bust beats with the pulses of a sensuous 
nature ; her eye that glows not with the snake-like, 
withering power of Rachel, burns with intense tender- 
ness, and is radiant with an ecstacy of joy that the 
other knew not of ; her voice, though it breaks, and 
is harsh or whimpering, yet tells the true language of 
passion ; its tones touch nerves that Rachel could 
never strike ; its accents provoke tears that none 
other can so wonderfully excite. She has a field all 
her own ; not classic, not ideal, not terrible ; but 
womanly, passionate, human. 

Adam B.adeau : the 'Vagabond,' Matilda Heron. 

Miss Heron's first entrance was wonderfully un- 
conventional. The woman dared to come in upon 
that painted scene as if it really was the home apart- 
ment it was represented to be. She did not slide in 
with her face to the audience, and wait for the 
mockery that is called "a reception." She walked in 
easily, naturally, unwitting of any outside eyes. The 
petulant manner in which she took off her shawl, the 
commonplace conversational tone in which she spoke 
to her servant, were revelations to Minnie and myself. 
Here was a daring reality. Here was a woman who, 
sacrificing for the moment all conventional prejudices, 
dared to play the loretie as the lorette herself plays 
her dramatic life, with all her whims, her passion, her 
fearlessness of consequences, her occasional vulgari- 
IV.— 16 


ties, her impertinence, her tenderness and self-sac- 
rifice ! 

It was not that we did not see faults. Occasionally 
Miss Heron's accent was bad, and had a savor of 
Celtic origin. But what mattered accent, or what 
mattered elocution, when we felt ourselves in the 
presence of an inspired woman ! 

Miss Heron's Camille electrified both Minnie and 
myself. My wife was particularly bouleversee. The 
artist we were beholding had not in a very marked 
manner any of those physical advantages which 
Minnie had predicated in her onslaught on the dramatic 
stars. It is true that Miss Heron's figure was com- 
manding, and there was a certain powerful light in her 
eyes that startled and thrilled ; but there was not the 
beauty of the " favorite actress." The conquest that 
she achieved was purely intellectual and magnetic. 

Of course we were present at the next performance. 
It was ' Medea.' We then beheld the great actress 
under a new phase. In Camille she died for love ; 
in Medea she killed for love. I never saw a human 
being so rocked by emotion as was my wife during the 
progress of this tragedy. Her countenance was a 
mirror of every incident and passion. She swayed to 
and fro under those gusts of indignant love that the 
actress sent forth from time to time, and which swept 
the house like a storm. 

Fitz-James O'Brien : ' Mother of Pearl ' in the 
'Diamond Lens, with Other Stories,'^. 126-7. 

The success of Miss Heron in the part was 

wonderful ; she did win from the press of the country 
the highest praise ; she did certainly deserve very 


much of the praise and success she received ; she was 
devoted to her art, and gave to the elaboration of the 
part her utmost power of body, heart and mind ; and 
she certainly was entitled to the copyright of the par- 
ticular version of the play she produced ; but her 
version was not the first, nor do we think it was the 
best ; she was not the original Camille in America, 
nor do we think she was the best ; and we cannot 
agree with her that ' Camille ' possesses powerful fas- 
cination, poetic interest, or immortal life. 

Laurence Hutton : ' Plays and Players,' chap. 
14,/- i6i,//. 163-4. 

The performance given at Niblo's yesterday after- 
noon, for the benefit of Miss Matilda Heron, was 
completely successful. The house was crowded. The 
programme of the entertainment has already been 
supplied to our readers It was interpreted with 
scrupulous fidelity, and none of its elements went un- 
rewarded with attention or applause. Previous to the 
departure of the audience Miss Heron delivered a 
brief address. Its closing hnes, which were positively 
touching, ran thus : 

" I have been an actress for twenty-seven years. 
To-day I have no parents, and no living relative save 
one little daughter. I am but a poor, humble woman, 
and it may be a consolation to you to know and to feel 
when you go home to-night that you have raised a 
woman out of the depths of misery and despair ; that 
you have provided sustenance for the present, and 
given her hopes for the future. New life has come to 
me through your kindness, and far beyond all else, I 
am thankful to you. that your presence here enables 


me to look with calmness on the bitter past. When I 
read that attack, (the St. Louis slander,) I, for the first 
time, thanked God that my father, my mother, my 
brothers, my relatives, were dead. I still have left to 
me, though, one darling little daughter, and if in 
Heaven's mercy I am spared to rear and educate her, 
I shall instill one sentiment into her mind, ' Bijou 
Heron, be grateful to the people of New York for the 
monument they have given your mother this day.' I 
need not say more. I shall take another place and 
occasion to thank my fellow-artists ; but believe me 
that no prayer will ascend to heaven to-night more 
fresh and sincere than mine for your prosperity and 

New York Times, July 17, 1874. 

Twenty years ago, when Matilda Heron came for- 
ward in the character of Camille, if she was not a great 
artist, she certainly was a very remarkable example of 
elemental power She had a wildness of emotion, a 
force of brain, a vitality in embodiment and many in- 
definable magnetic qualities, that combined to make 
her exceptional among human creatures. Those who 
saw her then saw a woman unusual for personal charms 
— strong and fine in physique, with dark hair, dark 
eyes, and a beautiful white complexion — but more un- 
usual for an electrical sympathy of temperament that 
captivated every heart. Miss Heron was never more 
at her best than in Camille. She appeared in other 
parts, but that was the part she always acted ; and, 
though it is true that she may have somewhat refined 
upon her method in after years, she never acted it 
better than at the first. It afforded the agonized and 


agonizing situation which alone could serve for the 
utterance of her tempestuous nature. Once, in later 
times, speaking to an author about a play that she 
wished to have written for her, she was careful to 
state that the heroine must be " a lost woman." No 
doubt she knew, as everybody knows, that a woman 
lost is not a particle more dramatic than a woman 
found ; but she loved the storm ana reveled in the 
reckless agony of a nature that is at war with itself. 
More than almost any other woman we can call to 
mind upon the stage, Matilda Heron knew what it is 
to love, and what it is to suffer through the truth or 
through the consequences of that awful tremendous 
passion. When, in the first act of ' Camille,' she used 
to rush forward and sob out the exclamation, " Respect 
me — and in this house," she made the heart of every 
man who heard her stand still in his bosom; and when 
she parted from the lover whom she never meant to 
see again in this world, her agony was so great and so 
real that few men could look upon its exhibition. 
Hers was not, perhaps, the power of the imagination 
— that seizes upon an ideal and enables the artist to 
rise out of this actual world and embody a creature of 
the poetic brain, like Lady Macbeth — but hers, beyond 
all doubt,- was the human woman's heart, that had 
sounded every depth of passion and could embrace all 
possible experience of woman in that world of love 
which is so essentially her own. And while she was 
thus human and passionate in fibre, she was weird and 
fascinating in her individuality. All her ways were 
her own — and the eye followed her with a strange 
kind of delight at absolute newness and formidable 
sincerity. She often failed to satisfy the intellect, with 


reference to classic forms of ancient literature, 
•or to set molds of modern character. Her Medea, 
for example was half a prowling maniac and half a 
reckless slouch, — with now and then a gleam of fate- 
ful fury, like fire that streams through the suddenly 
opened mouth of the volcano ; and her Edith and 
Sybil and Geraldine were erratic and bizarre figures, 
only to be remembered for strong and surprising 
points. But no spectator of her acting ever — till her 
powers were on the wane — missed the sense of an 
original, vigorous, brilliant, and startling personality. 
She was an actress of the passions, — and of the 
passions in their universal ebb and flow. This 
sort of a nature, unless it be curbed by a prodigious 
moral sense and intellect, inevitably breaks all the 
bounds of a serene life. Matilda Heron's career 
has been full of trouble and sorrow. It is easy to 
say that she brought them upon herself ; it might be 
wiser to say that Heaven, which made her what she 
was, ruled the event to its own ends ; it certainly is 
truthful to say that she wrought the labor of her life 
with a profound, earnest, passionate, and virtuous 
sincerity ; that she touched, in thousands of hearts, 
the spring of gentle charity; that she dealt a blow 
which has staggered alike the canting sensualist and 
the canting Pharisee ; and, with all her faults and 
failings, that she leaves the memory, not alone of one 
of the greatest elemental forces in the dramatic art, 
but of a large-hearted, tender, magnanimous woman. 

Wm. Winter, in the New York Tribune, March 1 2, 

I I 




Sothern we miss — and who shall take his place ? 

Nature and art consorted in his race. 

Nature must e'en another mind produce, 

And art beguile it into cunning use. 

No easy task to be at once inane, 

And irresistibly absurd, though sane ! 

No more 'tis ours to sit with parted lip, 

Watching for Lord Dundreary s glare and skip ; 

No more that portrait of a master hand ; 

The lisping speech, the nonsense wisely planned ; 

The word and action held at wit's command. 

Farewell Dundreary! and in losing you 

We lost your Sam and Crushed Tragedian, too. 

Wm. L. Keese. 



In the career of the late Edward Askew Sothern 
is to be found a striking example of the intense indi- 
viduality which results from the combination of those 
qualities that mark at once the sterling actor and the 
true gentleman. Coming into the notice of playgoers 
at a period when the best talent and genius of the 
century were represented on the dramatic stage, he 
achieved a success that was phenomenal ; but it was 
a success that was due entirely to happy intuition, 
combined with intelligent study and patient enduring 
toil. It was no royal road to fame that he trod for 
many a weary year, nor yet was it mere accident that 
finally enabled him "to grasp the rose that blossomed 
above the thorns." Born in Liverpool, on April i, 
1826, his father being a well-to-do ship-broker, ample 
opportunities were afforded him by his family for the 
study of a profession, and for some years he was 
educated by a private tutor, the rector of an English 
church. With the understanding that he was to 
become a surgeon he went to London, but a few 
months' experience in the operating and dissecting 
rooms of the Middlesex Hospital, disgusted young 
Sothern with the idea of ever being an instrument 
of pain to others and he abandoned the work. Then 
followed a course of theological study for two or 


250 E. A. SOTHERN. 

three years, and to the day of his death grave 
theological books were his favorite reading. But, 
as he once said to the writer over our camp-fire in 
Labrador, his investigations in this direction and 
several controversies with clergymen threw a wet 
blanket on his ambition to represent the church mili- 
tant, and determined the bent of his mind in another 
direction. He felt what was true, that he was born to 
be an actor, and throwing his whole soul into the 
study of the old dramas, he soon became an acceptable 
amateur and as such appeared for the first time on 
any stage at the Theatre Royal, Island of Jersey, in 
the character of Othello. That he must have made 
an impression, even then, is attested by the fact that 
the managers at once offered him an engagement at a 
salary of thirty-five shillings a week. What ? thirty- 
five shillings a week for a full-fledged Othello 1 Never ! 
So the offer was indignantly declined. A short time 
afterwards, he was willing to accept a salary of fifteen 
shillings a week. Sothern was then twenty-one years 
of age. A few months before his death he humorously 
described these early experiences to me, saying: "On 
my arrival in the theatre in Guernsey, where I had 
been engaged, I found the play of ' Hamlet ' an- 
nounced for the first night, and that I was cast for 
Laertes, the Ghost, and the Second Actor. Jupiter ! 
how that staggered me ! Nevertheless nothing was to 
be done except to pin a memorandum on the wings to 
tell me when to make the changes and to go ahead 
and take the risk. Some diabolical joker, however, 
knowing that I was a greenhorn, took the memoran- 
dum down, and the consequence was, that relying on 
my memory, I was continually bounding on the stage 

E. A. SOTHERN. 2t,\ 

in the wrong character. Oh, the agony of that night. 
Fancy the Ghost going on to act as Laertes. I was im- 
mediately dismissed for incapacity. In fact the early 
portion of my professional career was marked by 
frequent dismissals for incapacity." 

A few months later Charles Kean saw Sothern in 
the character of Claude Melnotte, and the next morn- 
ing sent him a letter in which, while pointing out the 
faults of the novice, he recognized his originality and 
strongly recommended him to adopt the stage as his 
profession. Several seasons now passed during which 
young Sothern acquired experience by playing parts 
that ranged from Romeo to the low comedy business, 
and had so well advanced himself that Hailes Lacy, a 
dramatic publisher of London, induced him to visit 
the United States. • His first appearance was in 
Boston, Mass., Nov. i, 1852, where he opened as 
Dr. Pangloss, and in a farce called ' John Dobbs.' In 
his memoirs, Sothern says : " My failure in Pangloss 
was complete, although the audience were kind enough, 
because I was a stranger, to call me before the curtain, 
but the papers cut me up mercilessly and unani- 
mously, and I had common sense enough to know 
that their remarks were strictly true. I was again 
dismissed for incapacity. I then went to the Howard 
Athenoeum to play juvenile parts at a reduced salary, 
but they dismissed me again for incapacity." 

It will be observed that no one was more outspoken 
in his recognition of the weak points of his acting 
than Sothern himself, and this was one of his charac- 
teristics through life. He knew better than the critics 
when his efforts called for praise or censure, and he 
always regarded the harsh and varied experience 

25* E. y1. SOTHERN. 

encountered by him during his early career as among 
the most educational and valuable of his life. 

After leaving Boston, Sothern went to New York 
where he secured an engagement in Barnum's 
Museum in 1853, and played twice a day for a salary 
of twenty or twenty-five dollars a week. Subse- 
quently, he went under the management of Mr. 
Marshall of the Broadway Theatre, New York, and 
the National Theatre, Washington, D. C, and later 
under that of Laura Keene in Baltimore. From the 
latter he transferred his allegiance to Mr. James W. 
Wallack (Sept. 9, 1854), with whom he remained four 
years in the old theatre on Broadway near Broome 
Street. During this period, he patiently watched 
every opportunity to make his mark, and in every 
piece produced he understudied the parts of Lester 
Wallack and Charles Walcott, in order that he might 
be prepared at a moment's notice to take their places. 
At last the opportunity came. It was on the occasion 
of the appearance of Matilda Heron in ' Camille,' Jan. 
22, 1857. Three days before the production of the 
play, Mr. Wallack asked Sothern if he could study the 
part of Armand Duval in time for the performance. 
The reply was that he had already prepared himself, 
and when the play was given Sothern for the first 
time in his life received several enthusiastic recalls. 
It was only a week before this that he had made up 
his mind to return to England and seek some other 

Leaving Wallack's, Sothern rejoined Laura Keene 
in her theatre in New York. Here was first produced 
the piece known as the ' American Cousin,' by Tom 
Taylor, Oct. 18, 1858. It was originally written for 

E A. SOTHERN. 253 

Josh Silsbee a "Yankee comedian," and Lord Dun- 
dreary was a fourth rate old man with only forty-seven 
lines to speak. At first Sothern absolutely refused to 
take the character, but it was finally agreed that he 
should rewrite it to suit himself. He did so, and 
threw into the part everything that occurred to him as 
wildly absurd. Success during the first two or three 
weeks was by no means assured, but it was not long 
before the people began to recognize the eccentricity 
and satire of the character and the exquisite humor 
with which it had been invested. There was not a 
detail of dress or action that had not been the subject 
of diligent observation and study, and the whole was 
so carefully made to fit the man that few even of the 
cleverest actors ever have been able successfully to 
imitate the characterization presented by the great 
original. In speaking of the distortion of the old 
aphorisms which are introduced in the play, Sothern 
related to me the following incident : " A number of 
us some years ago were taking supper in Halifax after 
a performance, when a gentleman who has retired 
from the stage suddenly entered the room, and face- 
tiously remarked, 'Oh yes, I see birds of a 

feather, et cetera." The thought instantly struck me, 
and with a wink at my associates, assuming utter 
ignorance, I inquired, ' What do you mean by birds 
of a feather ? ' He looked rather staggered and 
replied, ' What ! have you never heard of the old 
English proverb, birds of a feather flock together ? ' 
Every one present shook his head. ' Confound it,' he 
said, ' I never met such a lot of ignoramusses in my 
life." That was my cue, and I began to turn the 
proverb inside out. I said to him there never could 

254 E. A. SOTHERN. 

have been such a proverb as ' birds of a feather ' . . . . 
the idea of a whole flock of. birds having only one 
feather! The thing is ridiculous. Besides the poor 
bird that had that feather must have flown on one 
side ; consequently as the other birds couldn't fly at 
all, they couldn't flock together. But, even accepting 
the absurdity, if they flocked at all they must flock 
together, for no bird could possibly be such a damned 
fool as to go away into a corner and try to flock by 
himself.' Our visitor began to see the point of the 
logic and joined in the roars of laughter. Years 
afterwards, I elaborated the idea in writing Dun- 
dreary." The piece had a long run on this occasion, 
and the tide of prosperity having turned in favor of 
Sothern, he determined to revisit London. 

Mrs. Florence and I had just returned from Eng- 
land and he sought ray advice. I told him he was 
sure to succeed, calling to his mind the fact that when- 
ever Punch caricatured the follies of the English no- 
bility, it was taken with good grace, so that the ab- 
surdities of Lord Dundreary would be well received 
and appreciated. He left New York for London in 
the year 1861. He was warmly welcomed, and Mr. 
Buckstone, the manager of the Haymarket Theatre, 
being in want of an attraction, agreed to produce ' Our 
American Cousin,' on Nov. 11, although he confessed 
that he did so with not a little fear and trembling. 
All the actors and actresses connected with the theatre 
predicted its failure. Buckstone, himself, to help the 
performance along, consented to play the part of Asa 
Trenchard, but nobody except Sothern himself had 
any confidence in it. 

The success of 'Our American Cousin,' however, 

E. A. SOTHERN. 255 

was immediate and continuous, everybody understood 
it, everybody enjoyed it, and Lord Dundreary was 
elevated to the peerage of Great Britain, Ireland 
and Scotland by unanimous consent, and became by 
long odds the best known member of the English 
aristocracy. The swells of London, whom it was 
supposed would be very hostile to this caricature of 
a British nobleman, were the first to appreciate it 
and understand it, and adopt its mannerisms, its 
drawl, its dress, and often its peculiar skip. To this 
day you cannot make yourself better understood in 
London than when you speak of " Dundreary whisk- 
ers" to your barber, or a '■'■Dundreary coat " to your 
tailor. The most popular actors seldom get beyond 
a necktie or a photograph, but Dundreary created a 
peer and a style. In London, as in New York, his 
modern costumes on and off the stage were regarded 
as models by the most fashionable people. At one 
time he bought a long frieze coat from a pig driver 
in Ireland, because he thought it was picturesque and 
comfortable, and introduced something like it on the 
stage, and thus originated the ulster and its half- 
dozen variations. 

For four hundred and ninety-six nights consecu- 
tively the Haymarket was crowded with the aristoc- 
racy of England, and the young man who but a few 
years before had left his country almost penniless to 
seek his fortune -upon the shores of America, returned 
to be overwhelmed with public praise and to enjoy an 
ovation such as has never been bestowed upon an 
actor of his time. 

Lord Dundreary V)\\\ doubtless be the character with 
which the memory of Sothern will be most intimately 

256 E. A. SOTHERN. 

associated. Yet those who remember his David Gar- 
rick, his Fitzaltamont in the 'Crushed Tragedian,' — 
" the dry bones of a common caricature into which he 
breathed vitality," — and his sparkling Sydney Spoonbill 
in the ' Hornet's Nest,' will always recall the superb 
Meissonier-like minuteness of art with which he re- 
produced nature in pictures that were harmoniously 
perfect. Whatever he did was done with regard to 
thoroughness of detail, and intense identification with 
the character in which he was to appear. He was 
wont to say that there is not an audience in the world 
who will not be quick to detect the sympathy existing 
between an actor and his part. 

It is but natural that one capable of investing his 
stage creations with such strong individuality should, 
in his own person, possess many peculiar character- 
istics. In the matured physique of middle life, as he 
last appeared to me, just before he died, Sothern was 
about five feet ten inches in height, and put together 
as if intended for hard work. His face, undisturbed 
by a wrinkle or a line of care, and habitually quiet, 
was lighted up, under a mass of beautiful white hair, 
by a pair of bright bluish-gray eyes, which looked as 
if they were undergoing continual drill to keep them 
in proper subjection. His countenance, full of ex- 
pression, at times might have been carved out of 
lignum vitas, for it was a dead wall when he chose it 
to be so, and again it was filled with a crowd of wel- 
comes that met one with the cheeriest of smiles. A 
long gray mustache concealed the mouth, but it 
could not hide the humor that hovered around the 
neighborhood, when, free from conventional re- 
straints, and among his friends, he could enjoy to the 

E. A. SOTHERN. 257 

full the bent of a frank, ingenuous, and hospitable 

Still he was not free from certain oddities. He 
frankly confessed that he could not endure a scent in 
the room. "I love birds, animals, pets of all kinds," 
he said, "but take me away from a perfume. My 
sister cannot bear the sight of grapes ; and a color 
that is not harmonious, a picture hung awry, a room 
full of disorder without apparent cause, — in fact, a 
thousand trifles which affect nobody else produce in 
me the most disagreeable sensations. Doubtless this 
is due to an intensely nervous disposition which I 
have inherited from both my father and mother, but 
I can't help it ; like the gout, it's in the blood." 

His temperament was largely emotional. He was 
impulsive, and had strong intuitive likes and dislikes 
which it was difficult to eradicate ; but to his friends 
he was true as steel. The love of children had a 
large place in his nature, and the amount he expended 
in charities would be a fortune to some persons. He 
was forgiving, too. I remember when a man attached 
to a scurrilous paper in New York attempted to black- 
mail him, filling columns with vile abuse week after 
week ; but at length this fellow came to him express- 
ing contrition, pleading poverty and the fear of 
having his wife and babes turned out of doors. 
Sothern gave him money sufficient to alleviate 
his distress, saying, " All right, old man ; don't do it 
again." So great was his aversion to solitude that, no 
matter where he might be, his hospitable table was al- 
ways spread for one or more guests at every meal, and 
then he would order the most extravagant dishes for 
no other purpose than to see them enjoy the repast. 
IV.— 17 

258 E. A. SOTHERN. 

Regarding his own appetite, " Plain fare and plenty 
of friends " was his motto. While a brave, he was 
not an aggressive, man, but always ready to defend 
himself or his friends, and to resent insult with an 
energy calculated to astonish any person who mis- 
took his poise. He was fond of style, but never 
ostentatious ; and his love of the beautiful is shown 
in his rare collections of brig-i-brac and articles of 

Intellectually he was a man of fine mind. In his 
earlier studies for the medical and theological profes- 
sions he had enjoyed a wide range of reading, and, 
with his natural aptitude and habits of observation, 
would probably have been successful in any pursuit 
he might have followed. In business he never pro- 
crastinated, and he was singularly methodical ; while 
on the stage he exacted the most punctilious nicety in 
the rendition of the respective parts. Without having 
a passion for literary pursuits there were few men 
who could better analyze, illustrate, classify, or con- 
struct, and hence he would doubtless have excelled in 
the field of fiction. His constructiveness and ideality 
were shown, not only in the frequent revision of his 
plays, but in the creations of character which no one 
has been able to imitate. Possessing a good com- 
mand of language and poetic sensibilities he often 
refined that which had come from the master hand. 
His dispositioa was bright and sunny, and, with his 
keen sense of humor combined with rare imitative 
power, he was a most charming companion. As a 
practical joker he had few equals, and a record of 
all the wild pranks he played would fill a volume, but 
they never made an enemy or left a sting behind. He 

E. A. SOTHERN. 259 

was a true sportsman, a good shot, and capital cross- 
country rider. 

On the morning of Jan. 20, 1881, he succumbed to 
the disease that had for many weeks kept him prisoner, 
and died at 6 Vere Street, London. His body lies in 
the cemetery at Southampton. 

Wm. J. Florence. 

It was anticipated that Douglas Stewart [Sothern] 
who came highly recommended to Mr. Leonard, would 
prove a card. Some even predicted that William 
Warren of the Museum was to have a rival. His d^but 
was as Dr. Pangloss [' Heir at Law,' National Theatre, 
Boston, Nov. i, 1852], and poor enough it proved, but 
his apologists attributed the failure to the "natural 
embarrassment of the occasion." Unfortunately, Mr. 
Stewart never got over his embarrassment, and Mr. 
Leonard, finding that the artist was not up to "invoice 
value," a mutual agreement to separate, after a few 
weeks, took place. 

Wm. W. Clapp : ' Records of the Boston Stage,' 
chap. 2g,pp. 410-11. 

' Our American Cousin ' is a piece of transatlantic 
extravagance which will have a long run at the Hay- 
market, not only because it is well mounted and acted, 
and presents Mr. Buckstone in a Yankee character, 
but more especially for the sake of a sketch new to 
our stage, given by an actor hitherto unknown in Lon- 
don, Mr. Sothern, with an eccentric and whimsical 
elaboration that is irresistibly amusing. It is the 
republican American's contemptuous notion of an 

26o E. A. SOTHERN. 

English lord. There is absolute vacuity in the head 
of Lord Dundreary, but his whiskers are, with help of 
dye, in good condition. He is polite and good-na- 
tured, although inane, and very indulgent to an out- 
side world tliat puzzles him sorely, by consisting chiefly 
of people whom he takes to be lunatics. The stale 
jokes and the extravagant suggestions of emptiness — 
his Lordship does not know what butter is — and has 
trouble to fit the name to the thing in speaking of a 
cow — would be intolerably stupid in the hands of almost 
any actor. But Mr. Sothern has overlaid it all with 
innumerable ludicrous touches of manner and by-play, 
and is so imperturbably extravagant, that shouts of 
laughter follow almost every look and gesture. He 
contrives, in the midst of all the extravagance, to 
maintain for his inane lord the air of a well-bred, 
good-natured gentleman ; and shows an art in his ab- 
surdity that makes us curious to see what he can do 
in some other character. But it will be long before 
he has leave from the public to do anything but iden- 
tify himself with Lord Dundreary. 

Henry Morlev : ' Journal of a London Playgoer,' 
Nov. i6, 1861. 

It was, however, in a part of his own invention that 
Mr. Sothern may be said to have begun his unusually 
successful career. Out of the part of Lord Dundreary, 
a very subordinate part of some forty lines in Mr. Tom 
Taylor's ' Our American Cousin,' he made what it is 
not too much to describe as a new creation. He con- 
ceived an idea of what such a part might be, and this 
idea he worked at and elaborated until he was able to 
bring the play to London with Dundreary, instead of 

E. A. SOTHERN. 261 

Asa Trenchard, as its chief character. Since his first 
successful appearance here, much, perhaps too much, 
of Mr. Sothern's time and energy have been spent in 
devising and introducing variations upon this strange 
invention of his. Much of the business which he 
presented at first is now omitted, and much new 
business and dialogue has been added ; but the con- 
ception of the indolent, half-educated, half-idiotic 
swell, with a strange vein of shrewdness and humor- 
ous perception in his character, remains the same. In 
this part Mr. Sothern excels, as Lamb says Dodd did, 
in " expressing slowness of apprehension ; " and yet 
there is such a quaint and unexpected mixture of 
cleverness and readiness with his tardy perceptions, 
and his simple surprise at anything new to him, that 
his audience never tire of contemplating his whimsi- 
calities. He is half-conscious of his own folly, and 
keenly alive to that of others. When his valet, with 
brutal frankness, presuming on and overrating his 
master's want of wits, confesses to his shameless inso- 
lence and thieving, Dundreary is more amused than 
indignant at the fellow's impudence, and, putting all 
question of his own supineness aside, wonders whether 
he had not better retain such a "magnificent idiot" 
in his service. He is throughout half-foolish and half- 
clever ; thoroughly selfish, and without the vestige of 
a high aim in life. Yet he is not unattractive, nor is it 
merely as a butt that he pleases. There is an indefinable 
quality in his character, imported into it by Mr. 
Sothern, which produces at least what is called " a 
sneaking kindness" for Dundreary. 

In David Garrick, his best known part, Mr. Sothern 
takes a higher flight, and ventures into the regions of 

262 £. yi. SOTHERN. 

pathos. His scene of affected drunkenness is ad- 
mirable both in stage technique and in indicating the 
under-current of deep emotion in a man who, moved by 
a noble impulse, assumes a part in reality grossly re- 
pugnant to him, and the few lines of Shakspere which 
he delivers under these conditions carry with them the 
suggestion at least of an undeveloped power. In the 
purely pathetic passages the actor has, it seems to me, 
steadily improved with increasing experience. 

Walter Herries Pollock, in the Theatre, March, 

The piece known as the ' American Cousin,' by Tom 
Taylor, was put in rehearsal. I was cast for the part 
of Lord Dundreary, a fourth-rate old man, only forty- 
seven lines. I refused the part, but finally agreed 
with Mr. Burnett, the stage manager, to play on the 
condition that I should entirely rewrite it. Miss Keene 
was also full of objections, which, however, she finally 
yielded. In rewriting the part, I threw into it every- 
thing that struck me as wildly absurd. There is not 
a single look, word, or act in Lord Dundreary that has 
not been suggested to me by persons whom I have 
known since I was five years of age. It has been 
frequently said that I have cut the piece down for the 
purpose of Dundrearyising the performance. This is 
not true. I have simply cut out the cellar scene, a 
drunken act, which was never popular, and so rear- 
ranged the play, that instead of seventeen scenes, 
which it had when it came from the hands of the author, 
it is now in four acts of one scene each. 

My part the first night was by no means a pro- 
nounced success. In fact, it was two or three weeks 

E. A. SOTHERN. 263 

before the people began to understand what I was 
about. I had acted so many serious parts before, that 
the public evidently considered that every tone of my 
voice ought to be pathetic, just as they now seem to 
think that every tone represents some mad eccentricity. 

" How," I have been asked, " did you happen to hit 
on that strange hop, skip, and jump business, which 
has been made so effective in your delineation of the 

"Why," I reply, "it was the simplest thing in the 
world ; it was a mere accident. I have naturally an 
elastic disposition, and during a rehearsal one cold 
morning I was hopping at the back of the stage, when 
Miss Keene sarcastically inquired if I was going to 
introduce that in Dundreary. The actors and actresses 
standing around laughed, and taking the cue, I replied: 
' Yes, Miss Keene ; that's my view of the character.' 
Having said this I was bound to stick to it, and as I 
progressed with the rehearsal I found that the whole 
company, including scene shifters and property-men, 
were roaring with laughter at my infernal nonsense. 
When I saw that the public accepted the satire I toned 
it down to the broad caricature which may be seen at 
the present day by any one who has a quick sense of 
the absurd." 

E. A. SoTHERN, in the Theatre, August, 1878. 

Where could be found a more brilliant man, a more 
fascinating companion than Sothern ? As swift in wit 
as a French woman, as swift in action as a juggler, he 
combined with these gifts great tenderness and charm 
of nature. I am sorry to find no record of our inter- 
course with him except what is set down on the 

264 E. A. SOTHERN. 

treacherous tablets of the memory ; but I remember his 
coming was always a signal that the thermometer was 
rapidly rising, and everything beginning to glow with 
a midsummer radiance of feeling and color. 

Mrs. Fields : ' James T. Fields : Biographical 
Sketch,'//. 125-6. 

While in New York, and before he made any hit, 
he had a dispute with Laura Keene, concerning some 
trivial affair at rehearsal, and she became highly ex- 
cited. After a brief quarrel on the stage, she retired 
to her dressing-room, and still angry, sent for him and 
commenced to rate him roundly. Sothern said to her: 
" Stop ! Laura — stop just a minute 1 " and advancing 
to the light, deliberately turned it down. 

" What do you mean by that, sir ? " said she, in a 

" Oh, nothing," rejoined Mr. Sothern, " but you 
have always been so lovely to me that I can't bear to 
look upon your beautiful face when you are in a 
passion. Now, go on ! " She never said another word 
of unkindness to him during her lifetime. 

Mrs. Vincent, in 'Birds of a Feather,'//. 182-3. 




.... From the arms of the mother, in childhood a 
To exile he came on the wanderer's shore : 
To the arms of the mother, his trials all over, 

And honored and laurelled, we yield him once 

Speak low of affection that longs to embrace him, 
Speak loud of the fame that awaits him afar — 

When homage shall hail him, and beauty shall grace 
And pomp hang her wreath on the conqueror's car ! 

When the shadows of time at his touch fall asunder. 
And heroes and demi-gods leap into light ; 

When the accents of Brutus ring wild in the thunder, 
And the white locks of Lear toss like sea-foam in 

When the grief of the Moor, like a tempest that dashes 
On crags in mid-ocean, has died into rest ; 

When the heart of Virginius breaks, o'er the ashes 
Of her who was sweetest, and purest, and best ; 

How proudly, how gladly their praise will caress him ! 

How brightly the jewels will blaze on his crown ! 
How the white hands of honor will greet him and bless 
With lilies and roses of perfect renown ! . . . . 

William Winter. 



John McCuUough was born at Blakes, near Cole- 
raine, Londonderry, Ireland, on Nov. 14, 1832, — the 
year that is memorable in this century for its associ- 
ation with the death of great men. His parents were 
situated in humble circumstances and were poor. His 
father, James McCullough, was "a small farmer." His 
mother, Mary, died in 1844, leaving her son, John, then 
a lad of twelve, and three daughters, Jane, Mary, and 
Elizabeth. Their father was unable to provide for 
these children, and shortly after the mother's death 
they were obliged to seek their fortune in emigration 
to America. In the spring of 1847, John and his 
sister Jane came to this country, and, having a cousin 
named John McCullough in Philadelphia, they pro- 
ceeded to that city, where, walking in Front Street, 
young John saw the name of his relative upon a sign, 
and, entering the house, claimed kindred there and was 
acknowledged. This cousin was a chair-maker, and 
in the business of chair-making John McCullough was 
now employed. His father and the sisters, Mary and 
Elizabeth, followed to America shortly after this time. 
The father, an unsuccessful man, but independent in 
spirit, worked the rest of his life as a farmer in the 
neighborhood of Philadelphia, seeming to prefer an 
humble station, and declining to accept aid even from 



his son, in the days of prosperity which eventually 
arrived. His death occurred at Moorestown, Burling- 
ton County, New Jersey, in 1878. He is remembered 
as a small, thin man, who spoke with a heavy brogue. 
He did not maintain intimate relations with his chil- 
dren. He was a faithful worker, but he had no ambi- 
tion, and he was of a reticent and inoperative char- 
acter. These ancestral peculiarities are to be noted 
for whatever they may happen to signify. The sisters 
of John McCuUough were married in America. Eliza- 
beth, his favorite sister, became the wife of Mr. Thomas 
Young, and died at Dunmore, Pennsylvania, in 1869. 
Mary became the wife of Mr. James Smith, and died 
at Statington, in the same State. Jane was married 
to Mr. John Wirth, and is a resident of Dunmore. John 
McCullough, shortly after he came to Philadelphia, 
made the acquaintance of Miss Letitia McClair, 
daughter of Mr. Samuel McClair, of Germantown, 
and to her he was married, April 8, 1849. Two chil- 
dren were born of this marriage, — James McCullough, 
July 4, 1850, and William F. Johnson McCullough, 
December 2, i860. The latter died on February 25, 

When John McCullough, a youth of fifteen, came 
to America, he could read, but he could not write. 
He had received no education, and he was in igno- 
rance of literature and art. Dying thirty-eight years 
later (1885), he had become a man of large and varied 
mental requirements, a considerable scholar in the 
dramatic profession, and the most conspicuous heroic 
actor of his time" on the American stage. Such a 
career, beginning in obscure and ignorant penury and 
ending in culture, honorable eminence, prosperity and 


fame, is extraordinary, and in dramatic annals it makes 
John McCuIlough a memorable name. 

No ancestor of his was ever upon the stage. Dra- 
matic faculty, however, is one of the peculiar attri- 
butes of the Irish race. In McCuIlough it was devel- 
oped by the accident of his meeting with a " stage- 
struck " workman in the shop of the Philadelphia 
chair-maker. This person, whose "spoutings" and 
general vagaries had at first been suggestive of 
lunacy, made him acquainted with the tragedy of 
'Richard III.,' stimulated in him a taste for reading 
Shakspere, acquainted him with the delights of re- 
hearsal, introduced him to a theatrical society, and, 
finally, took him to the theatre itself. The first 
dramatic performance that he witnessed was, accord- 
ing to his own best recollection, a performance of 
Shiel's tragedy of the 'Apostate' in the old Arch 
Street Theatre, in Philadelphia. From this time onward 
he read with avidity every play that he could obtain ; 
and, without the distinct intention of becoming an 
actor, — probably with no view whatever to the future, 
but only from natural relish for this pursuit, — devoted 
his life and thought to the study of acting. One of 
his first steps toward the stage, taken at this period, 
was his affiliation with the " Boothenian Dramatic 
Association," of Philadelphia, a local club which held 
meetings and gave performances in the fourth story 
of an abandoned warehouse, once a sugar refinery, 
and of which the principal spirit was Mr. Lemuel R. 
Shewell, in later years an actor well-known through- 
out the cities on the eastern sea-board of America. 
McCuIlough took lessons in elocution from Mr. 
Lemuel White, a teacher of this art ; and at the 


house of this gentleman he became acquainted with 
Mr. William F. Johnson, from whom he received not 
only sympathy but instruction, and through whose 
affectionate, judicious efforts he obtained substantially 
all the education it was ever his lot to receive. By 
this adviser and comrade his mind was directed to 
branches of learning apart from the stage. One of 
the books that he read was ' Chambers's Encyclopaedia 
of English Literature,' and in less than a month he 
had absorbed the whole of it, becoming so familiar 
with its contents that he could descant on the British 
authors as if he had been trained for nothing else, — 
so eager was his zeal for knowledge and so retentive 
was the memory in which he stored it. 

McCullough's theatrical career, beginning in 1857 
and ending in 1884, covered a period of twenty-seven 
years. His first engagement was made at the Arch 
Street Theatre, Philadelphia, under the management 
of William Wheatley and John Drew, and his first ap- 
pearance there was madeon Aug. 15, 1857, as Thomas in 
the ' Belle's Stratagem.' His rise in the dramatic pro- 
fession was gradual. In the early days of the American 
stage it was more difficult to win position than it is in 
these times of speculative theatrical management, 
when all the arts of advertising are pressed into the 
business of manufacturing fame. Every step of the 
way had then to be made with toilsome effort. There 
were many obstacles to be surmounted and many hard- 
ships to be endured. The histories of Cooper, Forrest, 
J. B. Booth, A. A. Addams, E. L. Davenport, and Jeffer- 
son, teach the same lesson of persistent effort and of 
patience under privation. McCullough, in his quest 
of professional recognition, had the usual trying 


experience; but he was in earnest and he proved the 
integrity of his talents, the force of his character and 
the sincerity of his devotion by a steadfast adherence to 
that service of the drama which was the purpose of his 
life. His novitiate at the Arch Street Theatre lasted 
until the summer of i860, when E. L. Davenport, at 
that time manager of the Howard Athenaeum, Boston, 
engaged him at that theatre, where he remained for 
one season — that of i860- '61. In the ensuing season 
he was back again in Philadelphia, engaged at the 
Walnut Street Theatre, under the management of 
Mrs. Garretson. Here he was when presently he 
■ attracted the particular notice of Edwin Forrest, who 
chanced to be in need of an actor to play the parts 
second to his own, and who procured his release from 
Mrs. Garretson and gave him an engagement for lead- 
ing business. This was " the tide which taken at the 
flood leads on to fortune." McCullough's first ap- 
pearance with Forrest was made at Boston in October, 
1861, in the character of Pythias. His line of parts 
now included Laertes, Macduff, lago, Edgar, Richmond, 
Jcilius and Titus. He co-operated with Forrest also 
in those plays that were the exclusive property of that 
tragedian — in ' Metamora,' the 'Gladiator,' 'Jack Cade,' 
and the ' Broker of Bogota.' In later times, when 
Forrest revived ' Coriolanus ' (Nov. 1863, at Niblo's 
Garden, New York), McCullough acted Cominius. 
From the time of his engagement with Forrest he had 
a clear field and he advanced in the open sunshine of 

An incident connected with his early life upon the 
stage is significant of his solid character and invet- 
erate purpose. He has more than once referred to 


it, in the hearing of the present writer, as having 
had a marked influence upon his subsequent fortunes. 
While yet a youth, at the Howard Athensum, in Bos- 
ton, he was suddenly summoned to play, at short 
notice, an important and formidable part. Davenport, 
then the star, had been taken ill, and could not appear. 
The character was Robert Landry, in the ' Dead Heart ' 
— one of the longest parts in modern romantic drama. 
McCullough was directed, at noon, to be in readiness 
to come on and read it at night. He took the part 
home, committed the whole of it to memory within a 
few hours, and without previous explanation to any- 
body in the theatre he went on at night, letter perfect, 
and played Robert Landry in such a way as to make a 
hit. These facts came to the knowledge of Forrest 
and aroused that interest in the young actor which 
soon afterward took a practical form. 

McCullough's professional life after he joined 
Edwin Forrest was not more eventful than is usual 
with a leading man in a theatrical stock company. 
He traveled through the country season after season, 
playing seconds to the more famous tragedian, and 
constantly gaining in experience and popularity. At 
this time he was much under the influence of the 
style of Forrest, and indeed he habitually imitated the 
manner of his leader. This was the weakness of many 
young actors of that period, and perhaps it was not 
easily to be avoided by an actor who lived and labored 
in constant association with that strong and singular 
personality. In after time, however, McCullough 
entirely discarded this fault ; but he could at will give 
astonishing imitations of Forrest's peculiarities, and 
this he sometimes did with humorous effect. In 


1866 he accompanied Forrest in a trip to Califor- 
nia, where he was received with immediate and 
uncommon favor, and where he found many friends. 
Many of these friends were among the wealthy citizens 
of San Francisco, and he had not long been in that 
city before it was proposed by them that he should 
remain there as the manager of the California Theatre, 
in partnership with his distinguished contemporary 
Lawrence Barrett. This plan was sanctioned by 
Forrest ; the enterprise was carried into effect, and 
McCullough remained on the Pacific Coast for eight 
successive seasons. The history of the California 
Theatre makes a brilliant chapter in his career. Plays 
were mounted there with magnificence ; the ripe schol- 
arship of Lawrence Barrett proved a signal service, 
and both Barrett and McCullough filled engagements 
of uncommon profit. Their partnership lasted until 
November, 1870, when it was dissolved by the amica- 
ble withdrawal of Mr. Barrett, and McCullough re- 
mained alone in the management. It was in the 
California Theatre that he first acted Virginius, and 
one by one added to his repertory the other great 
parts to which he had formerly played seconds under 
the leadership of Forrest. He remained connected 
with the California Theatre until 1875, when, in the 
ruin of the banker Ralston, he suffered a heavy loss 
which led to his relinquishment of that institution. It 
never was his ambition to be a theatrical manager. 

On May 4, 1874, McCullough made his first appear- 
ance as a star actor in New York, coming forward as 
Spartacus, in the ' Gladiator.' He acted at Booth's 
Theatre until May 30. He was seen as Richelieu and 
Hamlet, and he took part as Philii> Faulconbridge, in a 
IV.— 18 


revival of ' King John,' which was effected on May 
25. At the end of this engagement he returned to 
CaHfornia to attend to the interests of his theatre in 
San Francisco, but in the course of the summer he 
came back, and when Mr. Boucicault's ' Belle Lamar ' 
was brought out at Booth's Theatre, Aug. 10, 1874, he 
acted in it as Colonel Bligh. This was under the 
management of Messrs. Jarrett and Palmer. On Sept. 
14, these managers produced an altered version of 
Otway's tragedy of ' Venice Preserved,' made by Mr. 
Boucicault, and in this McCullough acted Pierre — a 
character that was always a favorite with him. On 
the 19th he took a benefit and said farewell, and he 
did not appear in New York again till April 2, 1877. 
The interval was passed in the fulfilment of ambitious, 
laborious and lucrative engagements in many other 
cities. In the fall of 1874 he went on the Western 
circuit and visited New Orleans, proceeding thence to 
San Francisco in December and reappearing at the 
California Theatre, where in an engagement of four 
weeks he drew $36,000. He remained in San Fran- 
cisco till the autumn of 1875, when he once more 
came North, and this time he met with extraordinary 
success in Washington, where, on Dec. 12, at the 
National Theatre, a special demonstration was made 
in his honor, and his performance of Virginius was 
attended by the President of the United States and 
the Cabinet. 

In February, 1876, he had great success in Boston, 
where the accident of a sudden illness, which tempo- 
rarily deprived him of his voice, strongly attracted 
toward him the public sympathy, and where, on Feb. 
9, playing Virginius for the first time in that city, he 


gained some of the brightest laurels of his life. On 
March 27, 1876, he reappeared at San Francisco, as 
Virginius, and was welcomed with enthusiasm. This 
was the season of Edwin Booth's famous Southern 
tour, which, under Mr. John T. Ford's management, 
lasted from Jan. 3 to March 3, and thereafter was 
continued by Mr. Booth himself, who first acted in 
Chicago and then went on to San Francisco, where 
McCullough gave him a royal reception, and in order 
to augment his success, acted in conjunction with him, 
playing such parts as De Mauprat and Richmond. 
This is recorded as the most remunerative dramatic 
engagement that ever was played on the American 

On April 2, 1877, he came again to New York, and 
it- was now seen that he had made surprising advance- 
ment in his art. He appeared at Booth's Theatre as 
Vitginius, and after seven performances of this part, 
in an engagement lasting till April 27, he performed 
likewise Richelieu, Richard III., Othello, lago, Spar- 
tacus, Metamora and King Lear. For his benefit on 
April 27 McCullough acted Othello, and at the close 
of the performance a silver laurel wreath, the gift of 
New York friends, was publicly presented to him on 
the stage, and was received by him with a speech of 
manliness and delicate taste. Tributes of this kind, 
indeed, were frequent incidents of his career, for no 
man ever had a larger circle of affectionate friends. 
An occasion of this kind had happened earlier in 1877, 
on March 13, when at the Southern Hotel in St. Louis 
many leading citizens of that place gave a public ban- 
quet to honor him, and congratulations flowed to him 
from every part of this land. On Feb. 9, 1878, he 


received the compliment of a banquet from the Lotos 
Club of New York. On Nov. 9, 1878, he was the 
honored guest of citizens of Washington, at a public 
banquet at Willard's Hotel, at which General W. T. 
Sherman presided, and Mr. James G. Blaine was the 
principal orator. 

On Oct. 12, 1877, performances for the benefit of 
Edwin Adams, then on his death-bed, took place at 
the Academy of Music in New York, and McCullough 
participated in them. A close friendship had for 
many years subsisted between Adams and himself, 
and indeed it would be difficult to imagine two 
human beings more accordant in generosity of tem- 
perament and gentleness of life. Adams died on 
Oct. 28, 1877. 

McCullough took part also in the performance for 
the benefit of John Brougham, which was given in the 
Academy of Music, New York, on Jan. 17, 1878, 
playing the Moor 'vs\ the third act of 'Othello.' On 
Feb. 7 he came out at the Boston Theatre as Corio- 
lanus. His third star engagement in New York began 
on April 22, 1878, at the Grand Opera House, and in 
its third week he signalized the occasion by acting 
Lucius Brutus, in the ' Fall of Tarquin,' for the first 
time in the capital. In the spring of this year his 
professional affairs were placed under the direction of 
Mr. William M. Conner, who proved to him an ex- 
cellent manager and a true friend. On March 13 he 
appeared at Syracuse, giving seven successive per- 
formances there, and receiving $500 for each per- 
formance. The receipts for the one week were 
$4,200. The receipts on his benefit night, when he 
played Virginius, were $1,253. It used to please him 


to recall, as a contrast with this success, and as a sign 
of growing popularity, that when first he acted in 
Syracuse the house contained only $128. His next 
important engagement in New York began on Dec. 16 
at the Grand Opera House, where he revived ' Corio- 
lanus.' On Feb. 3, 1879, at the Boston Theatre, he 
effected a revival of the old play of ' Pizarro,' and 
acted Rolla, performing this old-fashioned part with 
dignity in the declamatory portions, and with pict- 
uresque vigor and effective pathos in the closing 

In June, 1880, he crossed the Atlantic and made a 
visit to his birthplace, where he was received with 
interest and kindness. While in London he made 
arrangements for acting there in the season of 1881. 
He began the new season, Sept. 5, at Utica. From 
Nov. 15 to Dec. II he was acting at the Fifth Avenue 
Theatre, New York. For his benefit, Dec. 10, he 
played Lucius Brutus. There were 837 persons in 
the gallery alone, and the receipts that night were 
$1,637. In the speech before the curtain McCullough 
said : " Whatever may become of me, whether I rise 
or sink, it is a comfort to reflect that the noble art of 
which I am an humble representative will remain and 
flourish as long as human nature exists." During the 
remainder of that season he was in the West and 
South. The season ended on April 2, 1881, and he 
had acted in thirty-four cities. On April 4 he re- 
ceived the tribute of a public banquet at Delmonico's, 
New York, at which a poem was read by William 
Winter. In his speech that night McCullough said: 
" If I succeed I shall be grateful, but not unduly 
elated. If I fail, I shall not be soured by disappoint- 


merit. My hope is that I may prove myself not alto- 
gether unworthy of the great kindness that has been 
shown toward me in America, and of the good will 
and good opinion that have been so touchingly ex- 
pressed on this occasion." On April 18 he appeared 
in London, at Drury Lane Theatre, as Virginius. 
The engagement lasted till May 21, and the tragedian 
was seen in Virginius and Othello. In his farewell 
speech McCullough said : " I came to you a stranger, 
and now I feel as if I had known you for years. You 
have taught me the significance and true meaning of 
British fair play." He returned to America in Sep- 
tember, and began the season of i88i-'82 at St. Paul, 
going over much the same ground as before. On 
Dec. 8, 1881, for the benefit of the Poe Memorial, he 
played at the Union Square Theatre, N. Y., in one 
act of 'Richard IIL' On Dec. 12, that year, at the 
Fifth Avenue Theatre, N. Y., he brought out the 
' Bondman,' a tragic play by Lewis Wingfield, on the 
subject of Jack Cade's rebellion. 

In the spring of 1883, he began to show signs of 
serious illness, and he was especially depressed and 
miserable at Cincinnati during the Dramatic Festival 
which was held there, April 29 to May 4, and in the 
course of which he enacted Shakspere's Brutus and 
Othello, and Knowles's Master Walter. On May 7, he 
retired to the home of an attached friend, Mr. John 
Carson, at Quincy, 111., where he passed a considerable 
time in a gallant but hopeless struggle against the en- 
croachments of his disease. On Aug. 20, 1883, he 
entered on a new professional season at Denver. At 
Christmas he was acting in Philadelphia, and as the 
year closed he seemed to be convalescent. Early in 


Jan. 1884, he was acting in Boston, and on March 3, 
he appeared at the Star Theatre, New York. This 
was his last engagement there. Three weeks of it 
were devoted to Virginius and Spartacus, and one week 
to Brutus, Othello, Spartacus, Virginius and Richard 
III. It ended on March 29, and McCulIough ended 
his season on April 5, at the Novelty Theatre in Wil- 
liamsburg. It was evident then to those who saw him 
act that his powers were broken. On June 29, he 
sailed for Germany, seeking relief from his malady at 
the springs at Carlsbad, but the expedition was fruit- 
less. He returned by way of England, passing a few 
days in London. It was evident on his arrival home 
that his mind had grown feeble and that he was con- 
siderably advanced upon the downward road to death. 
He resumed his work but he could not carry it forward. 
The final collapse occurred at McVicker's Theatre, 
Chicago, on Sept. 29, 1884, and he retired forever 
from the stage. On June 27, 1885, he was placed in 
a private lunatic asylum at Bloomingdale, N. Y., where 
he remained till Oct. 25, when he was removed to his 
home in Philadelphia. He died there on Nov. 8, 1885, 
and he is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in that 

In McCullough's personal character the qualities 
which first attracted interest were modesty, simpli- 
city, and manliness. Animated by a distinct profes- 
sional purpose, and always resolute in its pursuit, he 
possessed, in an eminent degree, the calmness of a 
man who understands himself and the objects of his 
life, and who means to exercise a firm and wise con- 
trol over the inward resources of his nature and all 
outward aids to his career. From first to last his 


demeanor toward the world was gentle and propitia- 
tory. He was aware of the deficiencies of his educa- 
tion. He knew his own defects. But, more than 
this, he had a perfectly distinct perception of what is 
due to others, together with a high and just sense of 
the magnitude of the dramatic art, the difficulties to 
be conquered in its pursuit, and the nature and value 
of success in its service. A certain sweet humility 
was natural to him. He never vaunted himself. He 
never was unduly exalted. He took success as he 
took failure, — with meekness. This was not an affec- 
tation, — for he well knew that his powers were un- 
common, and he was fully and gladly aware of the 
great triumphs that he had achieved. But this strain 
of modesty ran through all his conduct, because it 
was inherent in his character. He knew what other 
actors had done, and he knew that there were 
other heights to be gained, higher than any that had 
been reached by him. Allied to this quality, and 
perhaps resultant upon it, there was in his character 
the attribute of thoroughness. He did not wish 
merely to be called a great actor ; he wished to be 
a great actor ; and, acting under this desire and 
purpose, he studied and labored at all times to make 
the utmost that could be made of his faculties and 
occasions. He left nothing to chance. He observed 
every detail. He considered and planned every step 
of his way. He always knew what he wished to ac- 
complish in dramatic art, and he always had in his 
mind a distinct and practical method by which to ac- 
complish it. He was a direct man in his art, because 
a direct man in his nature. Persons who saw him 
upon the stage, equally with persons who were 


brought into contact with him in real life, were in- 
variably impressed with the truth of his tempera- 
ment. Experience of the world, indeed, had taught 
him the necessity of being politic in the direction of 
his affairs. He was not a simpleton, — he was only 
simple. He did not "wear his heart upon his sleeve 
for daws to peck at," — but he wore his heart in his 
bosom, and it was an honest, tender, manly heart, 
sympathetic with goodness, resentful of evil, charitable 
and generous, faithful in its affection and easily moved 
to pity and to kindness. Such a nature offers no com- 
plexities for analysis. It is rooted in elemental prin- 
ciples of humanity and virtue. Such a man may 
make errors, may commit faults, may reveal occa- 
sional weakness, may be led astray by passion ; but 
he remains essentially a lovable human being, and he 
is readily and rightly understood. McCullough had 
this fortune, and he had it for this reason. Wherever 
he went he carried this charm of personal worth, and 
he found instant sympathy and kindness. He was 
naturally cheerful. His rugged health and affluent 
physical strength harmonized with his temperament and 
augmented its effect. His bearing and movements 
had the composure that comes of power. His smile 
was equally indicative of pleasure in life and kindness 
toward others. He was an attractive man to children, 
to all weak or helpless persons, to all such natures as 
lack self-reliance, and, therefore, turn instinctively 
toward strength and sweetness. He had a protective 
air. Safety and comfort seemed to enter with him 
wherever he came. He was a sturdy, smiling reality 
of beneficent goodness, and his presence encour- 
aged those who work and cheered those who suffer. 


Whatever of policy he employed in the conduct of life 
was not craft, — it was the prudence which had been en- 
forced upon him by the monitions of experience; and 
perhaps had he used more of this sort of policy, had 
he guarded and fostered his own powers and interests, 
and been less heedless and lavish of resources which 
he seemed to regard as herculean and inexhaustible, 
his end would not have come so soon, nor in a way so 
lamentable, desolate, and wretched. 

McCullough's acting was essentially the flower of 
his character, as thus denoted. He played many 
parts, but the parts in which he was best — in which 
his nature was liberated and his triumph supreme — 
were distinctively those which rest upon the basis of 
the genial human heart and proceed in the realm of 
the affections. He displayed artistic resources, intel- 
lectual intention, and sometimes a subtle professional 
skill, in such characters as Hamlet and Richelieu; but 
he never was in sympathy with them, and he did not 
make them his own. He was an heroic actor. He 
towered into splendor in such situations as are pro- 
vided by the closing scene in Payne's ' Brutus,' the 
Forum scene in 'Virginius,' the scaffold scene in 
' Damon and Pythias.' He was the manly friend, to 
whom life and all the possessions of the world are 
nothing when weighed in the balance against fidelity 
to love. He was the fond and tender father, whose 
great strength became a sweet and yielding feeble- 
ness in the presence of his gentle daughter. He was 
the simple, truthful, affectionate, high-minded man, 
whose soul could exist only in honor. To ideals of 
this kind he gave perfect expression, and for an es- 
sential nobleness and manliness such as stimulate 


human hearts to a renewed devotion to duty and a 
fervid allegiance to high ideals of character and con- 
duct, he will be remembered as long as anything is re- 
membered in the history of the stage. 

William Winter. 

At the close of their business arrangement, Forrest 
said to McCuUough, " I believe I have kept my en- 
gagement with you to the letter ; but before we part 
I want to thank you for your strict fidelity to your 
professional duties at all times. And allow me to say 
that I have been, most of all, pleased to see you uni- 
formly so studious and zealous in your efforts to 

Wm. R. Alger : 'Life of Forrest,' vol. it., chap. 16. 

McCuUough devoted, under ordinary conditions, 
more time and thought to study than many people 
imagined. He occupied much of his time in reading 
the works of Shaksperean commentators, and never 
lost an opportunity of improving his performances, 
nor did he ever reject a valuable suggestion as to 
make up and costume, in regard to which he con- 
sidered himself particularly indebted to Mr. Steele 
Mackaye. He had a natural love and a finely attuned 
ear for poetry, and, while he was in London, would 
often recite Oliver Wendell Holmes's centennial trib- 
ute to Thomas Moore. I shall never think of these 
verses, which begin ' Enchanter of Erin,' without re- 
calling the vibration of those deep-chested tones now 
for ever silent. In an artificial world, and a society par- 
ticularly prone to all uncharitableness, McCuUough 


managed to retain a wholesome nature and an integrity 
of disposition that would alone render him remarkable. 
If he had any grievances, he never made the mistake 
of alluding to them, and he seemed to move through 
life embodying the precept of good will of all. En- 
tirely devoid of petty malice, utterly free from profes- 
sional jealousy, full of loving-kindness to those he 
liked, and discretely reticent concerning those who 
had wronged or offended even his liberal and long- 
suffering nature, McCullough reminded me of no 
character in fiction so much as the Nabob of Daudet. 
Like that simple man, he was beset with all sorts 
of demands and desires, and encumbered with the 
varied aspirations from which no successful per- 
sonage is exempt, and yet he managed to keep in the 
good will of the people about him to an extent which 
the efforts of an accomplished tactician might not 
have attained. His friends, who were pained and 
saddened almost beyond expression by the piteous 
spectacle of his slow decay, are not unnaturally less 
shocked at his release by death than had he been 
struck down in health and strength, and those who 
have been in England throughout the period of his 
decline are glad to remember him as the John Mc- 
Cullough of four years ago, not merely as "the best 
Roman actor seen this many a day," but the strong 
and hearty man whose smile brightened even dull 
London town, and the warm grasp of whose hand was 
that of one whose name was truth. 

Clinton Stuart, in the Boston Herald, Nov. 25, 

Twenty years have nearly passed, since upon the 


far-oflf shores of the Pacific I first met John McCuU 
lough. He was then just concluding, in San Fran- 
cisco, an engagement with his great preceptor and 
friend, Edwin Forrest — an engagement doomed to be 
the last they should ever play together. He had 
already made for himself a name, being regarded as 
one of the young tragedians who had before him a 
bright and glowing future, and the kind-hearted 
people among whom his lot was then cast, holding 
their arms open to the aspiring artist, took him to 
their hearts as their protege and friend, and induced 
him to make this city his home. For nearly nine 
years he lived amongst them, and though it is not my 
purpose to allude lengthily to his career, as that has 
been already sketched in the fullest manner by the 
journals throughout the length and breadth of the 
land, I feel myself compelled to touch briefly upon 
his management of the California Theatre, where, in 
conjunction with Lawrence Barrett, he inaugurated an 

^ era of theatrical representations second to none which 

have been given in his time, and raised the Drama on 
the Pacific Coast to a condition which it had never 

^F before known, and which may fitly be called its 

"Golden Age." If the names of the company which 
he selected be written now, there will be found among 
them those of most of the eminent actors and actresses 
of to-day, who, graduating from that admirable 
school, have since fought their way to the highest 
places of their profession. It was towards £he more 
legitimate drama that our friend's tastes and inclina- 
tions always directed him, and the productions of 
' Coriolanus,' ' Julius Caesar,' ' Hamlet,' ' Cymbeline,' 
and others were such as have rarely been equalled 


upon the English speaking stage. He was the means 
also of drawing towards a then little known region, 
the more prominent actors of the country, and dis- 
played throughout his management an enterprise and 
liberality as honorable as they are rare. There is not 
an artist to-day who played in the California Theatre 
when it was under McCullough's direction, but will 
bear ample testimony to the almost lavish generosity 
which characterized his mounting of their plays — to 
the care with which all matters of business outside of 
the theatre walls were watched and tended to the 
great excellence of the supporting company ; and, 
more than all, to the atmosphere of thoughtful kind- 
ness which pervaded the place, and made every one 
who came within its influence experience the calm 
comforts of a home. I know well that it is somewhat 
the fashion to decry actors as men of business, and in 
this regard our poor friend has not escaped ; but the 
amount of thought and skill required to work to 
perfection the machinery of a theatre needs to be 
great indeed, and to find a man competent in every 
department is almost impossible ; but in all that per- 
tains to the absolute knowledge of the stage and its 
own particular requirements John McCullough was 
thoroughly at home, and had he not been a great 
actor, he would, by the force of his love for his pro- 
fession, have made an admirable manager. 


1 848-1 880. 


And 0, to think the sun can shine, 

The birds can sing, the flowers can bloom. 

And she, whose soul was all divine. 
Be darkly mouldering in the tomb : 

That o'er her head the night-wind sighs. 
And the sad cypress droops and moans ; 

That night has veiled her glorious eyes, 
And silence hushed her heavenly tones : 

That those sweet lips no more can smile, 
Nor pity's tender shadows chase. 

With many a gentle, child-like wile. 
The rippling laughter o'er her face : 

That dust is on the burnished gold 
That floated round her royal head ; 

That her great heart is dead and cold— 
Her form of fire and beauty dead ! 

Roll on, gray earth and shining star, 
And coldly mock our dreams of bliss ; 

There is no glory left to mar. 
Nor any grief so black as this 1 

William Winter. 



" Poor Neilson," as she is remembered in admira- 
tion, mingled with pity for the tragic side of her brief 
life, was too rare an actress ever to be quite for- 
gotten. When the generation she thrilled and ele- 
vated has passed away she will still figure in stage 
history, as one of Shakspere's memorable servants, — 
not such a genius as Peg Woffington, perhaps, nor an 
artist like Mrs. Abington, but as a great beauty, and 
something more than a great talent, having much in 
common with both. Like theirs, her bent for acting was 
revealed at an early age, though its development was 
slower. Like them, she climbed from the border-land of 
the slums to the highest place in the theatre of her time. 

There is reason to think her dramatic powers were 
inherited, not so much from her mother — a Miss 
Brown, who was attached to a stock company that 
traveled in the Northern circuit — as from her father, 
who is believed to have been an actor in the same 
company, and of Spanish descent.* Certainly Adelaide 
Neilson's beauty favored the Spanish type, and gave 

♦The facts here stated with regard to Miss Neilson's early life and English 
career, have been derived from newspaper articles, Mr. Pascoe's ' Dramatic List,' 
and Mrs. Holloway's ' Souvenir ' ; in respect to her American career, the writer 
has had, in addition to bis own recollection and diary, the advantage of reading 
the diary of Mr. Laurence Hutton, and the articles of Mr. WilUam Winter. — 
C. C. B. 

IV.— 19 289 


an air of reality to the romantic fiction innocently set 
forth by Mr. Pascoe in his 'Dramatic List' of her 
having been born in Saragossa, two years later than 
her real birthday. But the world will not blame her 
for wishing to veil the informality of her birth ; and 
to err as to dates is no less human than feminine. 
After her death it was made clear that the person 
known to the stage as Lilian Adelaide Neilson was 
the same as Elizabeth Ann Brown, mentioned in the 
registry of births for the Leeds north district, York- 
shire, as having been born at No. 35 St. Peter's Square, 
on the third of March, 1848. Her mother married a 
Mr. Bland, variously described as a basket-maker, and 
as a painter and paper-hanger. They settled at Guise- 
ley, near Leeds, where her mother afterward lived in 
comfort provided by her daughter who also left, by 
will, a stay for old age. 

Little is known of the early life of Lizzie Bland, as 
she was called in her stepfather's family. At the time 
of her death there were persons in Leeds who remem- 
bered a precocious talent for recitations, and that she 
had carried the nickname of the " Spanish girl." She 
is said to have received a little schooling, to have 
worked in a factory, and to have served as a nurse- 
girl in a country family. At fourteen, she ran away 
to Leeds, where she had relatives, and continued the 
escapade to London, which she entered as a beau- 
tiful waif seeking a chance to become an actress. 
It is said that she was for a time a bar-maid in a little 
French caf^ in the Haymarket, before she reached 
the coveted boards as a chorus girl or novice in the 

At the age of seventeen Miss Neilson made her 


ddbut as Juliet, on the stage of the Royalty Theatre, 
and with only slight success. In the following year, 
1866, she acted Gabrielle in the 'Huguenot's Daugh- 
ter,' at the Princess's Theatre, when one of the critics 
described her as " remarkably pretty and interesting." 
Her beauty and pathos gained vogue for her playing 
at the Adelphi, as Victorine, in the drama of that name, 
and as Nelly Armroyd in ' Lost in London.' In Edin- 
burgh (1868) she first essayed Rosalind, but returned 
to the modern drama, adding Knowles's Julia, and 
Bulwer's Pauline to her repertory. It was in March, 
1869, that Mr. Joseph Knight remarked in the Athe- 
nceum, apropos of her acting of Lilian in ' Life for Life,' 
that " Practice and care are alone required to secure 
for Miss Neilson a high and enduring reputation." 
Little more than a year from that time she was the 
acknowledged queen of the English stage. To the 
critic's discernment she referred the suddenness of 
wider recognition ; and, when it could not be misun- 
derstood, she showed her gratitude by leaving him 
^1,000 in her will. After her appearance as Amy Rob- 
sart at Drury Lane, in September, 1870, another writer 
characterized her as a " true dramatic genius," albeit 
some fault was found with her art. Three months 
later her second appearance in London as Juliet was a 
complete triumph.* 

Miss Neilson was the ideal Juliet in all that the 
poet could have dreamed, or the mind of spectator 
fancy. And as Juliet she carried New York by storm, 

•Other characters assumed by Miss Neilson in London, between 1868 and 
1878, were Madame Vidal in ' A Life Chase,' Mary Beitan in ' Uncle Dick's 
Darling,' Rebecca in the drama of ' Ivanhoe,' Anne Boleyn in Tom Taylor's 
play, Isabella in the * Crimson Cross,' and Lady Teazle. — C. C. B. 


Nov. 1 8, 1872. That evening had great import for her 
future career. She was welcomed by a public that was 
in the fresh enthusiasm of a Shaksperean revival, and of 
just her qualities there had been a lack. During the re- 
mainder of her life, she labored mainly for that public 
and, with one exception, submitted each new Shak- 
sperean study first to its appreciation. Booth's Theatre, 
where she first appeared, had recently been built to 
satisfy a love for the Shaksperean drama and a senti- 
ment in stage art at that time unique in the English 
speaking world. Mr. Edwin Booth, who was more 
than the titulary genius of the house, was still demon- 
strating that a great actor is not necessarily a good 
manager, yet it was well for Miss Neilson, in making her 
American debut, to be associated with his name. The 
crowds that thronged the theatre saw not a repre- 
sentation of Juliet, but her very embodiment ; they 
beheld not impassioned art which left youth and phy- 
sical beauty to the imagination, nor yet the reverse ; 
they saw a dazzling girl who looked the poetic qualities 
of the part, and whose luminous eyes and dark tresses 
boded the passionate fervor of the South. It did not 
seem to be art ; the tokens of a great passion were 
as real as the tears ; and the voice which spoke the 
matchless lines was so sensitive to feeling, so womanly 
and musical, that the spectator could not help being 
convinced and thrilled. Juliet, in fine, filled without 
overtopping, the compass of Neilson's own passionate 
and wayward character. 

Her Rosalind, which was seen on her return to 
Booth's Theatre the following spring, gave no such 
play to her natural dramatic fervor. But she had 
a tallish, noble figure for the part ; she made it 


sparkle with playfulness, and she expressed in wonder- 
ful degree its delicate, poetic meaning. During her 
second visit to the United States (1874) she played 
Beatrice in ' Much Ado,' at the Lyceum Theatre, 
in New York, but subsequently dropped the character 
from her repertory. Her true sphere was the roman- 
tic drama of Shakspere, for her style was too large 
and elemental for brilliant comedy and at that time 
not ma,ssive enough for the great tragedy parts ; yet 
she revealed new powers as Isabella in ' Measure 
for Measure,' first played by her in London in i8'76, 
and was patiently studying Lady Macbeth, which, as 
she told Mr. Eben Plympton, she did not mean to 
attempt until she was forty. 

She signalized her third visit to America, which 
began at Daly's Theatre, New York, May 12, 1877, by. 
appearing in two new characters, to which she had 
devoted years of study. She opened with her first 
performance of Viola in ' Twelfth Night,' and by her 
command of its delicate humor and pathos, placed the 
part at once near to her Juliet. She then produced 
' Cymbeline,' finding in Imogen full scope for her 
maturing powers. And it may be remarked that 
the chief beauty of her Shaksperean characters was 
the subjugation of her own personality to them. 
Since her death several actresses have essayed some of 
her great parts, and two, at least, have won success 
through great beauty or personal charm and stage 
training. But Miss Neilson, with every physical equip- 
ment, acted like one inspired by the great master 

In 1877 the Supreme Court of New York granted 
Miss Neilson a divorce from her husband, Philip Lee, 



the son of an English clergyman, to whom she had 
borne a child that died in infancy. 

Her last tour in America, which was begun at the 
Brooklyn Theatre, Oct. 20, 1879, was indeed, as she 
had announced it would be, her farewell to the stage. 
It was remarkably prosperous, her share of the pro- 
ceeds in the Eastern States and Canada being, as it was 
stated, $75,000 ; her western trip raised the aggregate 
to about $100,000. Her farewell benefit in New York 
at Booth's Theatre, May 24, 1880, was the one hundred 
and eighty-fifth performance of an almost continuous 
series, during which she had lost but one night from 
illness, though she was beginning to feel great fatigue. 
That evening, to a crowded and tremendously enthu- 
siastic house, she gave scenes from ' Twelfth Night,' 
' Romeo and Juliet,' ' Cymbeline,' and ' Measure for 
Measure,' the impression made as Isabella affirming 
the grandeur of her ripened genius. At the end, her 
voice trembling with emotion, she made a little farewell 
speech, containing these words : "It seems to me that 
I am leaving not only friends, but happiness itself ; that 
the skies can never again be as bright as they have been 
to me here, nor flowers bloom, nor music sound any 
more." The following day she started for California, 
and returned two months later to sail for Liverpool on 
the 28th of July. A few days after her arrival on the 
other side of the Atlantic her body was lying in the 
Paris morgue. On the afternoon of August 14, while 
driving in the Bois de Boulogne, she refreshed herself 
with a glass of iced milk. This brought on a vio- 
lent attack of gastralgia, to which she was subject. 
Seeking shelter in the Chalet on the Rond-Royal, she 
suffered agonies until three o'clock in the night, when 


in her writhing she ruptured a blood-vessel. A few 
days afterward Adelaide Neilson, whose thirty-two 
years had sufficed for a great career, was buried in 
Brompton Cemetery, London. 

C. C. BUEL. 

Miss Neilson, who played Lilian, is an actress of 
great power. Her method in art is as yet imperfect. 
The demonstrations of passion are confined to low 
and emphasized speech, with an accompaniment of 
appropriate gesture. She has yet to learn that hurried 
and breathless accents and sharp incisive pronuncia- 
tion of words are as powerful means of expressing 
sorrow or fear as those to which she confines herself. 
Her acting, accordingly, fine as it was, wanted variety. 
Some movements of her body were over sinuous, a 
few of her notes were too loud as too sustained, and 
her transition from tragic grandeur to girlish prettiness 
of speech and face was too sudden. A tendency to 
over attitudinizing was also displayed. Here censure 
ends. In the most important respects the impersona- 
tion was finest. It had true tragic fire. Some of the 
attitudes of Miss Neilson were full of grandeur ; her 
utterance was musical and impressive, and her face 
assumed at times a look full of awe and tragic portent. 
The delivery of some passages had, moreover, very 
subtle significance. Practice and care are alone re- 
quired to secure for Miss Neilson a high and enduring 

London Atftenceum, March 13, 1869. 

For the character of Amy Robsart, it would certainly 


have been difficult to find another such a representa- 
tive as Miss Neilson, who, notwithstanding some faults 
of manner, is an actress of true dramatic genius. Her 
passionate appeals to the truth and honor of Leicester 
were finely contrasted with the tenderness of her love 
passages. In the great scene with the jealous and 
suspicious Queen in the garden at Kenilworth, her 
acting rose to a higher level of pathetic force ; and 
finally her struggles with Varney, and her womanish 
terror at the prospect of death, were depicted with an 
intensity which powerfully excites the feelings of the 

London Daily News, Sept. 26, 1870. 

Last night, at Steinway Hall, Miss Adelaide Neilson 
made her first New York appearance as a public 
reader. The house was half full of people and the 
occasion was wholly full of enjoyment. Miss Neil- 
son's reading was divided, like Gaul, into three parts, 
and organ music, played by Mr. A. Schotte, filled all 
the pauses. Miss Neilson's programme comprised 
'Lady Clare,' the 'May Queen,' and the 'Charge of 
the Light Brigade,' by Tennyson ; the 'Knight and 
the Lady,' from the ' Ingoldsby Legends ; ' the Bal- 
cony scene from 'Romeo and Juliet;' a scene from 
Racine's ' Phedre,' and scenes from Congreve's com- 
edy of ' Love for Love.' There was great public en- 
thusiasm, — as a comment on which it may be said that 
Miss Neilson was recalled upon the stage after each 
of her three retirements, and was complimented by 
floral gifts and genuine applause, and that though her 
entertainment lasted close upon two hours and a half, 
nobody thought it too long. As a picture, this lady 


was a feast to the eye. She wore white satin, and 
her head was crowned with diamonds, whose lustre 
her beauty dimmed. We have heard that saffron- 
colored females, of an intellectual turn, are accus- 
tomed to sneer at Miss Neilson as a pretty woman 
who has no brains. This is the gravest mistake that 
a saffron-colored female ever made. In Miss Neilson 
are combined the tenderest feminine loveliness with 
that subtle intelligence which apprehends all meanings 
through the heart ; and as long as man's mind is ro- . 
bust and wholesome such a union of attributes will 
have a power in the mental world that neither blue 
stockings, nor dyspepsia nor Bohea can shake. In 
her reading last night — which was a very great popu- 
lar success — there was much likewise to command 
the homage of the critical student. Her dramatic 
power proved, indeed, uneven ; and when she touched 
' Phaedra ' she employed a class of emotions that are 
known to her perception rather than felt in her soul. 
But no man who heard her read the ' May Queen ' — 
in the pathetic part of which the tears rained from 
her eyes — will forget it to the last day of the longest 
life. To hear words of such glee and such solemn 
tenderness from lips so lovely and a heart so fond 
and good is to know what poetry means — in that 
inferior essence which, to use Moore's fine figure, is 
the fragrance of the wood that grows precious as it 
burns. In other parts she was sweet and grave, like 
some angelic child. She manifested a fine talent in 
the lighter comedy, a great deal of true humor, and a 
fire of martial enthusiasm. Certain vocal exploits, 
such as the crier's speech in the ' Ingoldsby Legend,' 
showed her resources of voice, and evoked delighted 


plaudits. The rarer merit was the deeper one — of 
emotion always adequate, taste always true — if we 
except one bit in the selection of Congreve — and re- 
finement pervading and adorning all. Miss Neilson 
will read again on Saturday afternoon, and she ought 
to have a crowded house. Those who hear her will 
not hear a genius and an artist like Cushman ; but 
they will hear one of the best and most interesting of 
readers, and one who is accredited to her vocation by 
superb gifts, — of whom it might be said, in Shak- 
sperean words : 

She hath a holy gift of prophecy, 

And sundry blessings hang about her head, 

That show her full of grace. 

Wm. Winter, in the New York Tribune, May 8, 1874. 

Her voice, than which there is no surer indication of 
genius in man or woman, was soft and sweet as a child's, 
and had a cadence in its maturer years which touched 
the ear of all who heard it, it was appealing, pathetic, 
melodious. Her mouth was more beautiful in expres- 
sion than in outline ; and this is true of all her fea- 
tures, with the exception of her eyes which were large 
and lustrous. Her head was small and shapely, and 
her ruddy brown hair well suited the pale olive- 
tinted complexion. She was slight of form and 
queenly in bearing. 

Laura C. Hollowav : 'Adelaide Neilson,'/. 49. 

Miss Neilson is an actress who thinks — a good many 
of them do not. The question, how to truly portray 
the character of Juliet, has filled her mind for years ; 
and she now seeks by hard study for the answer as 


earnestly as at any previous time. On her table we 
one day found a pocket volume of ' As You Like It.' 
Between its well-worn leaves were scraps of paper, 
torn note sheets, and fragments all written over, in her 
clear, bold hand, with such conclusions as she had 
evolved from almost every passage in the part of 
Rosalind. They were a curious study to us, for they 
revealed how the actress had subdued all minor details 
of the character to her idea of what it was in its com- 
pleteness. In Juliet she does the same thing. And 
though she is a woman whose bounty is as boundless, 
whose love is as deep as Juliet's, whose passions are 
as strong, whose deep-set, black eyes seem Tragedy's 
best interpreter, her conception of Juliet is a mistake. 
She has studied and felt it too much, and has so imbued 
herself with its more sombre elements, that she sees 
from the first meeting with Romeo what Juliet could 
not see — the end, which is death. In the command to 
the nurse, 

Go ask his name. — If he be married. 
My grave is like to be my wedding bed. 

Miss Neilson, by the deep tragical pathos which she 
throws into the words, gives the clue to all that is to 
come of hurt and misery. From that moment until 
the too sad ending, her art strives most to present 
effectively the gloomier characteristics of the tragedy. 
Yet they have no part in it until Tybalt is slain and 
Romeo is banished. Till then all is the ecstasy and 
intoxication of love, and Juliet should .be hopeful as 
joy, glad as the sunshine. It is not alone, however, 
that her conception as a whole is faulty, but the exe- 
cution is not always good. She does not read well at 


all times, her emphasis is frequently misplaced, and 
occasionally she is so melodramatic as to seem not 

These are the faults of youth that time and experi- 
ence should remove. Her merits are great and many. 
We do not use the word lightly when we say that Miss 
Neilson has genius, and that it — which some of her 
critics have called " personal magnetism " — so enfolds 
her beautiful art, as to hide from the casual observer 
its defects. Having genius, culture, and intelligence, 
youth, beauty, and grace, what more can an actress 
have ? Nothing essential, except severe training and 
prolonged experience, which alone make the artist 

If the girl who on that November night leaned from 
the balcony there — bright with the dewy sweetness of 
impassioned youth, glowing with the splendor of 
wondrous beauty, elate with the easy consciousness of 
her power to thrill and move to her changing moods 
the crowded house ; her eyes burning with passion, 
her full lips apart half disclosing the shining teeth, her 
dark brown hair falling in lustrous masses upon her 
shapely neck and " half the polished argent of her 
breast to sight laid bare" — was not the Juliet that 
Shakspere drew, she was of her the most perfect couri- 
terfeit. To every eye she was a picture, and to every 
heart she spoke passion ; the voice, when it was heard, 
only heightened the favorable impression, for it had 
that quality of velvety softness for which the voices of 
our English cousins are often remarkable. . . . 

To ignore Miss Neilson's mere physical fitness to 
portray the character would be a mistake. That is 
properly a part of the living picture she shows us, and 


if in any measure for "the golden rigol that doth bind 
her brows withal " she is indebted to her rare beauty, 
she should be as grateful therefor as for that other 
part, — her genius. From nature she received them 

From the rising of the curtain to its fall there was 
nothing more apparent than that the actress was in 
exquisite sympathy with the part. So much was this 
the case that when in the fourth act she was told of 
her lover's hurt, and she seemed to affect such coun- 
terfeit distress, her eyes were swimming in real tears, 
and her bosom heaved with a sorrow that was not 
counterfeit. It was not alone the glamour of youth, 
beauty, and classic grace which filled the spectator's 
mind with pleasurable emotion, but adding to the 
charm of the character and the completeness of the 
artist's triumph were the intelligence to recognize the 
subtle wit, dignity, and tenderness ; the exuberant 
vitality, the delicate refinement, and the masterful 
power to portray them all. In the famous scene with 
the nurse in ' Romeo and Juliet,' the actress gave 
only a hint of her ability to discharge the severest de- 
mands of the most exacting comedy ; but as Rosalind 
she proved her right to all her transatlantic praises by 
art that was not only without a trick, but almost with- 
out a flaw. In the more tender and emotional pas- 
sages of the play her quiet pathos appealed irresistibly 
to every heart, for underlying all she did there was a 
wondrous sweetness of womanly dignity and an ad- 
herence to nature which rendered the performance 
altogether worthy of her fame. 

There were in it bits of pantomime, as when Rosa- 
lind quits the stage at the end of scene second, act 


fifth, after she has promised every one good fortune 
on the morrow. Her arch smile, as she looked back 
at them, made her face seem half divine, and the 
tones of her voice .were as a suffusion of sweet sounds, 
ranging high and ranging low, which linger with us 
still, though since they were heard a winter has come 
and gone. Her utterance of the simple words " Woo 
me ! woo me ! " to Orlando, as her cheek was laid 
upon his shoulder, and her arm stole coyly about his 
neck, was sweet as a blackbird's call to its mate ; and 
again, in saying to her lover, 

Ay, go thy ways ! go thy ways. 'Tis but one cast away, 
And so — come death. 

the low, thrilling cadences filled the house with such 
mournful music, such despairing sweetness as were 
never heard there. The effect upon the audience was 
almost miraculous, for a stillness fell upon it broken 
only by some sobbing women in the boxes, who, in 
the next moment, were startled from their delicious 
tears by the actress's sudden change to the most jubi- 
lant laughter, evoked by her triumphant fooling of her 

We said that we were to judge for ourselves whether 
Miss Neilson deserved the fame that preceded her to 
America. We have judged her faithfully as we could; 
for the glamour that this great actress sheds upon the 
stage may in some degree be reflected on these pages. 
But, be that as it may, her art is true art ; for it not 
only occasionally reminds us of Shakspere, but it 
makes Shakspere real to us. The past, and not a 
very remote past, may have had greater actresses 
than Adelaide Neilson, but we have never seen them 


play Juliet or Rosalind. In the former character 
Miss Neilson was great every here and there, else- 
where it was the reverse of great ; but her Rosalind, 
entire or in part, seems to us, except in an occasional 
mistaken emphasis, to be beyond the critic's cavil. 
L. Clarke Davis, in the Galaxy, May, 1873. 

Miss Neilson, to use her stage name, happening to ask 
me for a little souvenir on her departure to Florida, I 
inquired what she would like best. She said she 
would leave it entirely to me, any trifle would be 
valued as a parting gift from such an old friend. 
Whereupon I asked her, on the spur of the moment, 
whether she would like a grizzly bear as an appropriate 
playmate and a pleasant ornament to a lady's chamber. 
She replied in the same spirit, "Yes, send him up," 
and there the banter ended. However, happening 
half an hour afterwards to meet Mr. Moss, the treas- 
urer of Wallack's theatre, he mentioned that he was 
very much annoyed by a confounded bear that some- 
body had sent him from California, and which he did 
not know what on earth to do with. " Where is he ? " 
said I. " At the back of the stage," said he, " with a 
half a dozen men sitting on his cage to keep him quiet; 
one of whom has already lost all his trousers and a 
good deal of his flesh through the bars." " Good," 
said I, " I will relieve you of him. I know just where 
to place him." No sooner said than done, and in half 
an hour "Grizzly" was landed at the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel by four porters with a stout chain about as big 
as the cable of a man-of war, and a muzzle like a fire- 
grate in the middle of Miss Neilson's drawing-room 
and a numerous company of guests, who had called to 


bid the fair Juliet adieu. Miss Neilson took the jest 
in good part, kept her temper, and tried to keep her 
bear ; but that was an effort beyond her, and Bruin 
was finally presented to the Zoological Gardens in 
Central Park, thus ending the modern adaptation 
" with a difference," of the old story of Beauty and 
the Beast. 

E. A. SoTHERN, in the Era Almanac, 1875, pp. 76-7. 

When Avon's Bard his sweetest music scored, 
A woman's vision with the numbers blent ; 

His weaving fancy robed the form adored, 
And each the other equal beauty lent. 

O Poet ! didst thou haply see again 

In living presence playful Rosalind, 
Sweet Viola, and saintly Imogen, 

Fair Juliet, swept by passion's withering wind ? — 

'Twas thine to give the music-mated lines, 
But Heaven alone empowers the counterpart 

To walk in splendor where such genius shines. 
Twice happy we, blest heirs of dual art : 

To own as mother tongue Will Shakspere's writ — 
To live when kindling Neilson voices it 

Clarence Clough Buel, in Scribner's Monthly, 
July, 1880. 



Abbot, Wm. 4. 

Abington, Mrs. 289. 

Adams, Edwin. 276. 

Adams, John Quincy. Quoted 92, 115. 

Addams, A. A. 270. 

.(Esopus. 30. 

Albert, Prince Consort. 179, 212. 

Alger, Rev. Wm. R. Quoted 66, 132, 283. 

Anderson, James. 73, 75. 

Anderton, Sarah. 150. 

Anson, John Wm. 118. 

Anster, John. 183. 

Archer, Wm., Biographical Sketch by. 71-79. 

" Artemus Ward," (C. F. Browne). Quoted 66-7. 

Aytoun, Wm. Edmonstoune. 178-9. 

Badeau, Adam. Quoted 56, 135-6, 146-7, 166-7, 239-41. 

Baillie, Joanna. 177. 

Baker, John Lewis. 233. 

Baker, Mrs. John Lewis (Alexina Fisher). 234, 

Balzac. 198. 

Barrett, Mrs. George H. 123. 

Barrett, Lawrence, Biographical Sketches by. 3-13, 35-47. 

" " Mentioned 273, 285. 

" " Quoted 65, 147, 1 51-2. 

Barrett, Mrs. Wilson (Caroline Heath). 97. 
" Barry Cornwall." (See B. W. Procter.) 
Barry, Thos. 42, 123. 

IV.— 20 305 

3o6 INDEX. 

Becher, Lady. (See Miss O'Neil.) 

Beebe. J. M. & Co. 121. 

Bell, Edw. Hamilton, Biographical Sketch by. 191-204. 

Benedict, Sir Jules. 87. 

Bernard, W. Bayle. Quoted 1 30-1. 

Bernhardt, Sarah. 225. 

Betterton, Thomas. li,Ti, 78. 

Blaine, James G. 276. 

Bland, Mrs. Humphrey (Harriet Faucit). 174. 

Bland, Lizzie. (See Adelaide Neilson.) 

Bland, Mr. 290. 

Bland, Mrs.' 290. 

Boker, George H. 76, note. 

Booth, Edwin. 72, 275, 292. 

Booth, Junius Brutus. 4. 7-8, 19. 28, 72. 96. 120, 122,. 123, 

132, 270. 
Boucicault, Dion. 274. 

" " Quoted 221-2, 

Boucicault, Mrs. Dion (Agnes Robertson). 97. 
Bouff^, Marie. 200. 
Bradshaw, Mrs. (Maria Tree). 100. 
Braham, John. 144. 
Brantome. 185. 
Brooke, G. V. 125. 
Brough, Lionel. 77. 
Brough, Robert. 198, 205. 
Brougham, John. 276. 

Quoted 25-6, 149-51. 
Brown, Elizabeth. (See Adelaide Neilson.) 
Brownbill, Thomas Robson. (See Frederick Robson.) 
Browne, Chas. F. (Artemus Ward). Quoted 66-7. 
Browning, Robert. 75, 76, 177. 
Bryant, Wm. C. 40, 50, 128. 
Buckstone, J. B. 254, 259. 
Buel, C. C, Biographical Sketch by. 289-295. 
" " " Quoted 304. 

INDEX. 307 

Bulwer-Lytton. 9, 10, 16, 74, 75, 76, 187. 

Bunce, Oliver B. Quoted 1 13-15. 

Bunner, H. C. Quoted 138. 

Burbage, Richard. 71. 

Burke, Master Joseph. 59. 

Burnand, F. C. Quoted 206. 

Burnett, J. G. 262, 

Burroughs, Watkins. 73. 

Burt, Nicholas. 72. 

Burton, Sir Frederick W. 178, 179, 182. 

Butler, Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson. 1 57. 

Byrne, Henry Herbert. 234-5. 

Byrne, Mrs. H. H. (See Matilda Heron.) 

Caldwell, James H. 38. 

Calvert, Mrs. Chas. 179. 

Carlyle, Jane Welsh. Quoted 26-7. 

Carpentier, E. 235. 

Carroll, Howard. Quoted 60-2. 

Carson, John. 278. 

Cecil, Arthur. 77. 

Chapin, Dr. E. 128. 

Chapman, Mrs. (Ann Tree.) 100. 

Chatterton, F. B. -JT. 

Chippendale, Wm. 158. 

Chippendale, Mrs. Wm. 143. 

Chorley, Henry F. Quoted 54-5, 148. 

Cibber, Colley. 74. 

Cicero. 30. 

Clapp, Wm. W. Quoted 161-2, 259. 

Clarke, Asia Booth. Quoted 28. 

Clarke, John S. Quoted 62-4. 

Clay, Henry. 60. 

Clement, Clara Erskine, Biographical Sketch by. 137-141. 

" " " Quoted 147. 

Clifford, Mrs. W. 18. 

3o8 INDEX. 

Closel, Mme. 142. 

Cole, John Wm. Quoted 95, 100, 107-8, wi-12. 

Coleman, John. 72. 

" " Quoted 118. 

Collins and Jones. 37. 
Collins, Wilkie. 199, 214. 

" " Quoted 222-4. 

Colman, George, Jr. 76. 
Comer, Thos. 123. 
Compton, Edward. Quoted 23. 
Compton, Henry. 22. 
Congreve, Wm. 8, 9, 76, 296. 
Conner, Capt. Wm. M. 276. 
Conway, Wm. A. 14, 37-8, 42, 48-9, 
Cooke, Dutton. Quoted 227-8. 
Cooke, George Frederick. 38, 96. 
Cooper, Sarah (Mrs. Samuel Phelps). /X 
Cooper, Thos. A. 11, 41, 96, 270. 
Courcelles, Marie T. Quoted 230. 
Cowell, Joseph. Quoted 48. 
Crisp, W. H. 158, 162. 
Cross, J. W. Quoted 221. 
CUSHMAN, Charlotte, Biographical Sketch of. 137-154. 

" " Mentioned 115, 233. 

" " Quoted 142. 

Cushman, Elkanah. 139. 
Cushman, Mrs. Elkanah. 139. 
Cushman, Robert. 139. 

Daly, Hon. Joseph F. 128, 

Dante. 174, 188. 

Davenport, Edwin L., Biographical Sketch of. 119-136. 

" " Mentioned 42, 159, 270, 271, 272. 

Davenport, Mrs. E. L. (Fanny Vining). 126. 
Davidge, Wm. 42. 

Quoted 204. 

INDEX. 309 

Davis, L. Clark. Quoted 298-303. 
Dey, Mr. (See E. L. Davenport.) 
Dickens, Charles. 9, 16, 199. 

" " Quoted 225, 225-7. 

Doche, Mme. 213, 222, 235. 
Dodd, James. 261. 
Domett, H. W. Quoted iio-ii. 
Drew, John, Sr. 270. 
Duff, Mrs. Mary. 94, 
Duff, Thomas. 42. 
Dumas, Alexandre, Jr. 210, 213, 236. 
Durang, Augustus F. 47. 
Durivage, Francis. Quoted 34. 
Duvernoir, Prof. 210. 

Edwards, Henry, Biographical Sketches by. 121-129, 231-239. 

Quoted 284-6. 
Elton, Mr. 73, 176. 
Emden, Wm. Samuel. 198. 
Euripides. 183. 
Evans, Mary Ann. (See " George Eliot.") 

Farren, Percival. 175. 
Farren, Wm. 175, 193, 194. 
Faucit, Harriet (Mrs. Humphrey Bland). 174. 
Faucit, Helen (Lady Martin,) Biographical Sketch of. 
" " Mentioned 102. 

Quoted 23. 86-7. 
Faucit, John Saville. 174. 
Fechter, Charles, Biographical Sketch of. 207-228. 

" " Mentioned 103. 

Fechter, J. M. G. 209, 210, 2ii. 
Ferris, George T. Quoted 150-1. 
Field, Kate, Biographical Sketch by. 209-216. 
Fields, Mrs. James T. Quoted 263-4. 


Firmin, J. F. 221-2. 

Fisher, Alexina (Mrs. Baker). 234. 

Fiske, Stephen. Quoted 64-5. 

Florence, Wm.J., Biographical Sketch by. 249-259. 

" " Mentioned 133. 

Florence, Mrs. Wm. J. 254. 
Forbes, Norman. 78. 
Ford, John T. 275. 
Forney, John W. 60. 
Forrest, Edwin, Biographical Sketch of. 33-67. 

" " Mentioned 6, 11, 13, 123, 129, 270,271, 

272-3, 283, 285. 
Forrest, Mrs. Edwin (Catherine Sinclair). 41, 44. 
Forrest, Wm. 35. 
Forrest, Wm., Jr. 24-5. 
Forster, John. 9, 16. 

Garretson, Mrs. 271. 

Garrick, David. 31, 57, 71, 72, 78. 

Garrick, Mrs. David. 232. 

Gates, Wm. 47. 

" George Eliot." Quoted 221. 

George IV. 94. 

Gilbert, John, 60-2, 123. 

Gilfert, Chas. 38. 

Gladstone, Wm. E. 93. 

Goddard, Henry P. Quoted 133. 

Godwin, Parke. 128. 

Gore, Mrs. 223. 

Greenwood, T. L. 75, "JT. 

Hackett, James H. 126, 129. 
Halleck, Fitz-Greene. 40, 50. 
Halliday, Andrew. 77. 
Hamblin, Thos. 124, 233. 
Hammond, W. J. 74. 

INDEX. 3** 

" Harland, Marian." Quoted i68-i7a 

Harris, Augustus, Sr. 213. 

Harrison, W. 18. 

Hazlitt, Wm. Quoted 4. 

Heath, Caroline (Mrs. Wilson Barrett). 97. 

Heron, Alexander. 231-2, 236. 

Heron, Bijou (Mrs. Henry Miller). 231, 237, 244. 

Heron, Matilda, Biographical Sketch of. 229-246. 

Hersant, M. 209. 

Hertz, Henrik. 179. 

HoUingshead, John. 77. ^ 

HoUoway, Laura C. 289, note. 

" " " Quoted 298. 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell. 283. 
Home, John. 36. 

Huddart, Mrs. (Mrs. Warren). 73, 75-6- 
Hugo, Victor. 226. 
Hutton,Laurence,Y;\o^2Cf\\vizS. Sketches by. 93-102,157-161. 

" " Quoted 134-5, 148-9. 242-3. 

" " Mentioned 291, note. 

Ingfram, D. R. 40. 
Inman, Henry. 72. 

Ireland, Joseph N. Quoted 109-10, 165. 
Irving, Henry. 10, 50. 
" " Quoted 20-1, 80-3, 145-6. 

Jarrett, Henry. 274. 

Jefferson, Joseph, [1774-1832]. 23. 

Jefferson, Joseph, [1829- ]. 270. 

Jerrold, Douglas. 72. 

Johnson, Wm. F. 270, 

Jones, Willis. 174. 

Jordan, Dorothy. 93. 

Kean, Charles, Biographical Sketch of. 91-118. 

312 INDEX. 

Kean, Charles. Mentioned ii, 17, 74, 77, 251. 
Kean, Mrs. Charles (Ellen Tree), Biographical Sketch of. 
" " " Mentioned 123. 

Kean, Edmund. 4, 7, 10, 15, 16, 17, 34, 37, 38, 56, 57, 73, 

78, 80, 93-6, 102-3, 106-7, 120, 131, 132, 191, 203. 
Kean, Mrs. Edmund. 93-4, 102-3. 
Keeley, Robt. 199. 
Keene, Laura. 252, 262-3, 264. 
Keese, Wm. L. Quoted 208, 248. 
Kemble, Charles. 4, 7, 41, 130. 
Kemble, Frances Ann. 100, 102. 

Quoted 1 15-16. 
Kemble, John Philip. 4, 7, 16, 18, 31, 34, 50, 72, 78, 173, 176. 
Kirk, John Foster. Quoted 19-20, 55, 58-9. 
Knight, Joseph. 291. 
Knowles, J. Sheridan. 16, loo-l, 278. 

Labouchere, Henry. 77. 
Lacy, Thomas Hailes. 251. 
Lacy, Walter. 217. 

Quoted 185. 
Lamb, Charles. 100, 261. 
Leclerq, Carlotta. 97. 
Leclerq, Rose. 97. 
Lee, Philip. 293-4. 

Lee, Mrs. Philip. (See Adelaide Neiison.) 
Leggett, Wm. 40. 
Lemaitre, Fred'k. 221. 
Lewes, George Henry. 225. 

" " Quoted 16-17, 103-4, 187,200,218,221. 

Lewis, Matthew George (" Monk Lewis "). 94. 
Longfellow, H. W. 54, 237. 
Louis Philippe. 182. 

Lowe, R. W., Biographical Sketch by. 171-181. 
Lyndhurst, Lord. 179. 

INDEX. 313 

Mackaye, Steele. 283. 

Macklin, Charles. 78. 

Macready, Wm. 3, 14. 

Macready, William Charles, Biographical Sketch of. 

1-3 1- 
* " " Mentioned 41, 53-4, 72, 

73. 74-5. 78. 80, 90, 
100, 125, 126, 129, 14c 

" " " Quoted 14-15, 28-30, 

48-51, 109, 142-3, 172, i8f-2, 217-18. 
Macready, Mrs. Wm. C. (Catherine Atkins). 5, 6, 26-7. 
Macready, Mrs. Wm. C. (Miss Spencer). 6. 
Maddox, Mr. 212. 
" Marion Harland." Quoted 168-70. 
Marshall, Ethelbert A. 252. 
Marston, Westland. 177. 
Martin, Lady. (See Helen Faucit.) 
Martin, Sir Theodore. 178-9. 

Quoted 188. 
Martineau, Harriet. Quoted 26. 
Massinger, Philip. 122. 
Mathews, Charles James. 77. 
Matthews, Brander. Quoted 60. 
McClair, Letitia (Mrs. John McCullough). 268. 
McClair, Samuel. 268. 
McCullough, Elizabeth (Mrs. Young). 267-8. 
McCullough, James (Father of John). 267-8. 
McCullough, James (Son of John). 268. 
McCulkjugh, Jane (Mrs. John Wirth). 267-8. 
McCullough, John, Biographical Sketch of. 265-286. 
McCullough, Mrs. John (Letitia McClair). 268. 
McCullough, J. B. 46. 
McCullough, Mary. 267. 
McCullough, Mary (Mrs. James Smith). 267-8. 

314 IXDEX. 

McCuUough, Wm. F. Johnson. 268. 

Merivale, Herman. Quoted 184-5. 

Meurice, Paul. 214. 

Miles, Geo. H. 233. 

Milman, H. Hart. 232. 

Miller, Mrs. Henry (Bijou Heron). 231, 237, 244. 

Mitchell, John. 178. 

Mohun, Michael. 72. 

MoliSre. 211. 

Moore, Thomas. 283. 

Morley, Henry. 76. 

Quoted 78-9, 81-2, 144-5, 184, 191, 197, 
199, 217, 259-60. 
Morton, J. Maddison. 199. 
Moss, Theo. 303. 
Mounet-Sully. 225. • 

MowATT, Anna Cora, Biographical Sketch of. 155-170. 
" " " Mentioned 123, 124-5. 

" " Quoted 131-2, 162-5. 

Mowatt, James. 131, 158, 160, 168. 
Murdoch, James H. 123, 233. 

" Quoted 53, 59-60, 108, 117-18, 143. 
Murray, Mr. 51. 

Napoleon HI. 212. 

Neilson, Adelaide, Biographical Sketch of. 287-304. 

" " Mentioned 114. 

Nixon, James. 42. 

Oakes, James. 44. 

O'Brien, Fitz-James. Quoted 241-2. 

Ogden, Anna Cora. (See Mrs. Mowatt.) 

Ogden, Samuel G. 167. 

O'Neill, Miss (Lady Becher). 4, 7, 102. 

Osbaldiston, David Webster. 175, 176. 

INDEX. 315 

Osgood, Frances S. Quoted 156. 
Ostinelli, Signor. 123. 
Oxenford, John. 199, 201. 

Palmer, Henry. 274. 

Pascoe, Chas. Eyre. 289, note, 290. 

" " Quoted 182-3, 

Payne, John Howard. 76, note, 100, 282. 
Petrie, George. 183. 
Phelps, Samuel, Biographical Sketch of. 69-90. 

" " Mentioned 72, 79. 

Phelps, Mrs. Samuel. 72, 79. 
Phelps, W. May. 71, note. 
Phillips, Mr. 62-3. 
Phillips, Watts. 202. 
Placide, jane. 38. 
Placide, Thomas. 158. 
Planch^, J. R. 195, 196, 197, 198. 

" Quoted 190, 196, 203. 
Plympton, Eben. 293. 
Pollock, Lady. Quoted 27-8, 217-18. 
Pollock, Walter Herries. Quoted 261-2. 
Ponisi, Mme. 42. 
Pope, Charles. 42. 
Power, Tyrone. 123. 
Price, Stephen. 94. 
Procter, B. W. (" Barry Cornwall.") Quoted 2, 102-3. 

Quin, James. 72, 78. 

Quin, Mrs. (Miss Tree). 100. 

Rachel. 16,210,211,241. 
Racine. 296. 
Ralston, Wm. C. 273. 
Richings, Peter. 232. 

3l6 INDEX. 

Ristori, Adelaide. 197, 206. 

Ritchie, Wm. F. 1 59. 

Ritchie, Mrs. Wm. F. (See Mrs. Mowatt.) 

Robertson, Agnes (Mrs. Dion Boucicault). 97. 

Robinson, Henry Crabb. Quoted 215. 

RoBSON, Frederick, Biographical Sketch of. 189-206. 

Rogers, Samuel. Quoted 16. 

Rousseau, J. J. 9. 

Ryder, John. 8. 

Ryder, Mr. (Manager). 51, 73. 

Sala, George Augustus. Quoted 193-4, 198, 204-6. 

Salvini. 55. 

Schotte, George A. 296. 

Scott, James M. 47. 

Scott, Sir Walter. 77. 

Scribe. 210. 

Sefton, John. 158. 

Sefton, Mrs. John (Mrs. Watts). 158. 

Shakspere. 6, 22, 31, 34, 42, 45, 50, 52, 66, 71, 76, ^^, 80, 81, 

97, 98, 103, 105, 109, 112, 140, 153. 173, 174, 179, 184, 

185, 188, 219, 220, 269, 278, 289, 293, 302, 304. 
Sherman, Gen. Wm. T. 276. 
Shewell, L. R. 269. 
Shiel, Robert Lalor. 269. 
Siddons, Mrs. 6, 59, 60, 102, 173. 
Silsbee, Josh. 253. 

Sinclair, Catherine (Mrs. Edwin Forrest). 41, 44. 
Smellie, Mr. 192. 

Smith, Mrs. James (Mary McCullough). 267-8. 
SOTHERN, Edward A., Biographical Sketch of. 247-264. 

" " Mentioned 236. 

" " Quoted 303-4. 

Spicer, Henry. 127. 
St. Aulaire, M. 210. 
Stebbins, Emma. Quoted, 142, 143-4, 148. 

INDEX. 317 

Stephens, G. 74. 

Sterling, Mrs. 199. 

Stewart, Douglas. (See E. A. Sothem.) 

Stockton, John D. Quoted 152-4. 

Stoepel, Robert. 236-7. 

Stoepel, Mrs. Robert. (See Matilda Heron.) 

Stone, H. D. Quoted 47-8, 136. 

Stuart, Clinton. Quoted 283-4. 

Sumner, Charles. Quoted 30. 

Talfourd, Frank. 194, 195. 
Talfourd, Thomas Noon. 9, 41, 195. 

" " " Quoted loi, 116. 

Talma. 4, 57, 58. 
Taylor, Tom. 76, 252-53, 260, 262, 291, note. 

" " Quoted 68, 79, 83-5, 108-9. 

Tennyson, Alfred. 296. 

" " Quoted 31. 

Terry, Ellen. 97, 102. 
Terry Kate. 97. 

Thompson, Elizabeth (Mrs. Butler). 157. 
Thompson, Sir Henry. 6. 
Tieck, Ludwig. 16. 
Toole, J. L. 77. 

Tree, Ann (Mrs. Chapman). 100. 
Tree, Ellen. (See Mrs. Charles Kean.) 
Tree, Maria (Mrs. Bradshaw). 100. 
Tree, Miss (Mrs. Quin). 100. 
Troughton, Richard Zouch S. 177. 

Vandenhoff, George. Quoted 17-18, 24, 52-3, 115, 187. 
Vandenhoff, John. 73, 75, 123. 
Vernon, Mrs. 158. 
Vezin, Herman. 77. 

Quoted 56-8, 85-6, 104-7. 

3i8 INDEX. 

Victoria, Queen. 97, 201, 212. 

Vincent, Mrs. 264. 

Vining, Fanny. (See Mrs. E. L. Davenport.) 

Vinton, George. 121. 

Voltaire. 9, 211. 

Von BUlow, Hans. 157. 

Walcot, Charles M., Sr. 252. 
Wallack, Henry. 75. 

Wallack, J. W., (Elder). 94, 130, 135-6, 252. 
Wallack, J. W., Qr). 127. 
Wallack, John Lester, 252. 
Waller, John Francis. 183. 
Walpole, Spencer. 93. 

Warren, Mrs. (Miss Huddart). 73, 75-6, 126. 
Warren, Wm., (Younger). 259. 
Watts, Mrs. (Mrs. John Sefton). 158. 
Webb, Chas. 1 17-18. 
Webster, Benjamin. 73. 
Wemyss, F. C. Quoted 24-5, 54, 1 12-13. 
Wheatley, Wm. 270. 
White, Lemuel. 269-70. 
Wigan, Alfred. 191, 195. 
Wigan, Mrs. Alfred (Miss Pincott). 195. 
Wilson, Mrs. C. Baron. Quoted 181. 
Wingfield, Hon. Lewis. 278. 
Winter, Wm., Biographical Sketch by. 267-283. 
" " Mentioned 277, 291, note. 

" Quoted 23-4, 244-6, 266, 288, 296-8. 
Woffington, Peg. 289. 
Wood, Mrs. John. 77. 
Wood, Wm. B. 23. 
Woodhull, Jacob. 39. 
Wyckoff, Henry. Quoted 51-2. 

Yates, Edmund. Quoted 224-5. 

INDEX. 319 

Young, Charles. 47. 

Young, Charles Mayne. 14, 6, 17, 78, 131. 

" " " Quoted 15-16. 

Young, Mrs. 14. 
Young, Mrs. Thomas (Elizabeth McCullough). 268. 


Matthews, Brander 

Actors sind actres^^es of 
Great Britain and the United 





Matthews, Brander 

Actors and actresses of 
Great Britain and the United